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r\ OLDEN autumn, with its broad dashes of orange and 
VJ crimson, thrown in amid the fading green of the 
foliage, now painted the landscape ; and all along our 
river-side shores, and far inland amongst our thorpes 
and granges there was a rustling of Harvest, and 
tawny reapers wielding their crooked sickles in the sun- 
browned corn-fields. Many a picturesque village stood 
with its thatched cottages empty and silent, for even the 
very poorest, who lacked employment at other seasons 
of the year, had now gone forth like the Ruth of old 
to glean, and taken their children with them to keep 
them out of harm's way, and help to gather up a few 
straggling ears of corn ; for it was the harvest-time of 
the poor as well as the rich. Even the little tailor had 


uncrossed his slender legs, thrown down his needle and 
thimble, and gone out to shear the corn ; and the wax- 
smelling old cobbler had laid down his spectacles, last, 
and awl, and sallied forth to join the reapers ; so that 
there was no getting a patch from the one, nor a stitch 
from the other, though you were out at the elbows and 
down at the heels. Excepting the grunting of the 
hungry pigs in their sties, the cackling and running of 
the poultry, and the humming of the bees round the 
hives, there was no stir of life about the little cottage 
gardens, which were so often filled with the noise of 
children ; even the clean white cat was shut out, and 
sat washing her face in the sunshine, or peering about 
with half-shut eyes as if wondering why all around her 
was so still. The few human figures that you saw 
moving about the village streets were either going -^ith 
heavy baskets and bottles, filled with provisions arid 
drink, to the harvest fields, or returning with them 
empty, to ask for more ; for the farmer neither stinted 
what was taken from his larder nor barrels at this busy 
season, when his men and maidens worked their 

Into a large corn-field, dotted everywhere with the 
figures of reapers and gleaners, a surly-looking farmer 
guided his horse, and beckoning to his foreman, who 
came up with his sickle hanging on his arm, wiping the 
perspiration from his forehead on his shirt-sleeve, he 
said, " What are all those women and children doing 
here, John ? Is this the way you obey my orders ? 
Didn't I tell you I wouldn't have any gleaners in my 
fields excepting Alice and her old grandmother*, until 
the corn was got in ?" 

" I told Alice so," replied the man, " but she said 


they were all neighbours whom you knew, and that she 
was sure you would let them glean when yon came. 
But here she comes to answer for herself." 

The maiden who approached seemed in no great 
hurry, but stooped every here and there to pick up an 
ear of corn as she came up. When standing before the 
horseman, she raised her beautiful face, and said, "I 
hope, Mr. IVx, you won't be cross with me for telling 
our poor neighbours that I was sure you would allow 
them to glean, as well as me and grandmother, so long 
as they didn't meddle with the sheaves, nor go too close 
to the reapers." 

" You and your grandmother I believe to be honest," 
answered the farmer, with somewhat of a stern look ; 
" last year when I let these people in, before the corn 
was led, I found a sheaf hidden away under the brick 
arch, by the gate, in the ditch." 

"I am sure it wasn't put there by any one now 
gleaning," replied Alice. " I would trust poor Widow 
Wetherby and her three children with uncounted gold, 
if I had it ; and, as to old Peggy Dixon and her daughter, 
they are religious people ; and all the rest I know to be 
honest : and when I saw them all hanging about the 
gate this morning as grandmother and I came in, I 
thought it was a sin to see the corn lying on the ground, 
and nobody to pick it up, and so many little mouths as 
some of those poor mothers have to fill." 

"Well well; they may stay since they are here," 
answered the farmer, surlily. " But remember, if they 
do anything wrong, I shall blame you," saying which he 
dismounted, thrust his hand in a sheaf of corn to see 
how it was drying, rubbed out an ear or two, then re- 
mounted, and rode off at a brisk trot to some other of 


his corn-fields, to see how his reapers were getting on 

All the gleaners had ceased from their labour, and 
stood watching the farmer and Alice, not certain whether 
they would be allowed to remain until he had gone ; and 
when she drew near, sending the silvery ring of her 
sweet voice before her, as she shouted out, " All right," 
the children replied with aloud "hurrah." 

" Bless her sweet face, I thought he couldn't refuse 
her when she asked, though he is a hard man to deal 
with," said the grandmother to her old gossip, Peggy 
Dixon, who was gleaning beside her. " It's hard to deny 
her anything, and she is contented with so little." 

" It would be a shame if he did," replied Peggy ; 
" for the whole of the land, I believe, belongs to her if 
she had her rights. What is the ten pounds a year 
he pays for it? Why, I have heard that Farmer 
Sooby would be glad to rent the estate at a hundred 
a year." 

" Well, you know, Peggy, that was all he paid when 
Alice's father was alive," replied the grandmother ; " I 
have been by when Mr. Fox has paid it many a time. 
He put down a large sum for the lease ; some hundreds, 
I believe. But all my son-in-law's papers were burnt in 
the Reform riots, and when her father died there was 
nothing to show, either how much or how little Mr. 
Fox had paid, nor how long nor how short his lease was 
for. He says he has his lease all right and straight, and 
can produce it any day. I am no lawyer you know, 
Peggy, and shouldn't understand it if I saw it." 

" Neither am I, so far as that goes," replied Peggy; 
" but I know a B from a battledore, and were Alice my 
grandchild, I would see Mr. Fox's lease, and try my 


hardest to understand all about it. I know what I've 
heard, and I haven't over much faith in a man who 
never gives a straightforward answer to a plain ques- 
tion. Did you never ask to see it ?" 

" I shouldn't like to give offence," said the grand- 
mother ; " for he has a short, sharp sort of a way with 
him, that isn't at all pleasant at times. And though 
two pounds ten shillings a quarter isn't very much for 
two of us to live upon, and pay our way, yet it's all we 
have, excepting the trifle we earn other ways ; and, were 
we to lose that, things would go harder with us than 
they do, and want pinches us pretty hard at times ; but 
nip as much as it may, Alice never complains. Bless 
her, she's my greatest comfort on earth, and will, I trust, 
be my companion in heaven, to which my daughter, her 
dear mother, has gone a little while before us." 

" Alice is all that any right heart could wish her to 
be," replied Peggy; "I wish Mr. Fox was only half 
as good as she is. But when a man asked a plain 
question says, ' I've got a lease, and I've paid for it, 
and that's enough for me, how long, or how short, ^s 
my business and Alice's graiidmotfier's, and nobody '* 
else's that I know of, and she is quite wise enough and 
old enough to let well alone. As to what papers Alice's 
father lost in the fire, when his house and rickyards 
were burnt, that's nothing to me. Perhaps my lease is 
for ninety-nine years, happen not so long, those who 
have plenty of money to spend in law will find **> ou-t if 
they wish. It will be time enough for >r^ to prod& 
my lease when Alice wants it.' That's the wav ho 
talks, as I have heard. She is not more ihan fourteen, 
is she ?" 

** Fourteen last Valentine's day," answered the 


grandmother, " and a prettier valentine no mother was 
ever presented with. I'm sure when she was a little 
baby I used to sit and look at her, until I sometimes 
fancied she had only just come, iu all ber innocence and 
beauty, fresh from the gates of heaven, where my 
dear daughter is now waiting for her to come back 

Alice had by this time gleaned her way up to her 
grandmother, and throwing back her beautiful long 
brown hair, which had fallen down while she stooped to 
pick up the scattered ears of corn, she came with a 
sweet smile on her handsome, sun-tanned countenance, 
and said, " You must be tired, dear granny, go and sit 
down in the shade, and rest yourself for an hour. I 
covered the bottle f milk up in the cool grass under 
the hedge, and I a i sure you will quite enjoy it, along 
with the cake I baked this morning ; I will come and 
join you as soon as I have gleaned another good handful. 
I've made you a nice soft seat. Go with her, Peggy, 
and taste my cake. It was made with the new milk 
Farmer Ashcroft sent us this morning, along with the 
fresh butter, of which I put a pretty good lump in the 

" Ay, that accounts for the sugar-basin being so low 
as it is," said the grandmother, shaking her finger at 
Aline. " Come along, Peggy, and let's taste her seed- 
cake, and if you don't make haste, Alice, perhaps we 
shall eat it all," and the happy-minded old women went 
away laughing together to rest themselves beneath the 
broad-branched oak that grew near the hedgerow, where 
the standing corn for a fe\v yards still remained green 
under its cooling shadow. 

It was a pretty picture to see Alice standing in the 


corn-field in her faded cotton dress, the autumn sun 
shine streaming full on her sweet gentle face, and giving 
a golden colour to her rich brown hair, and the ripe corn 
she held in her hand, as with a sweet smile, she saw the 
old women drawing nearer to their resting-place, and 
thought how much her grandmother would enjoy her- 
self while she remained behind to glean. Then she 
bent her graceful figure, and began to work in earnest, 
picking up as many ears of corn in a few minutes as her 
aged grandmother would have been a long hour in 
gathering, nor ever once making a straight back until it 
fairly ached again through stooping so long. In vain 
did her grandmother call " Alice," to which she shouted 
back, " I'm coming soon ;" she still kept on gleaning 
until she saw her grandmother arise from her seat ; then 
she knew she was coming for her, so went to join her, 
knowing that by doing so she should prevail over her 
to rest a little longer. 

Then what patience she displaj T ed towards the dear 
little ragged dirty children, as they picked their way up 
to her from every corner of the field ; the sharp stubble 
piercing their hard, rough, bare legs at every step they 
took. One asking her to tie up its glean as it held up 
the little handful of corn ; another to clip oiF the straw, 
and put the ears of corn in the little poke that was tied 
round its tiny waist. She attended to all, kissed their 
dear dirty faces, when she had done what they wanted, 
and sent them away happy ; meeting them with the 
same sweet smile when they again came to her for 

Alice never made a trouble of duty, nor considered 
that time misspent which she bestowed on others to make 
them happy. For attending on her aged grandmother 


had taught her the great lesson of patience. By a long 
course of kindness and attention she had learnt to know 
even the very wishes of her aged relative, and to supply 
her every want before a word was spoken. To see granny 
arise from her chair, when she was comfortably seated, only 
to reach anything she might want, seemed a silent rebuke 
to Alice, and by continued watching she was at last able to 
read her very looks, and could do what was required with- 
out grandmother opening her lips. Then what a rich 
reward was that fond kiss, that gently-spoken " Thank 
you, my sweet child," and that look of unutterable and 
affectionate tenderness which no language could ever 
convey. The greatest pleasure Alice could find was in 
endeavouring to make her grandmother happy, and the 
prayers of that old woman were ever ascending to 
heaven, entreating that her grandchild might ever re- 
main as good and virtuous as she was then, and that no 
shadow of evil might ever darken the sunshine which 
lighted her innocent eyes. To see her stepping west- 
ward in the evening sunset, carrying the trailing corn 
they had gleaned, on her head, while the ears fell 
about her beautiful face as she was followed by her 
stooping grandmother, looked as if rosy Summer harf 
alighted on the earth, and was leading home aged 

From the time she was ten years of age, Alice had 
turned her attention seriously to the means of increasing 
her grandmother's income, so that she might procure for 
her a few additional comforts which her great age re- 
quired. She had sharp ears, quick eyes, a willing mind, 
nimble fingers, and feet too stirring ever to let the 
grass grow under them while there was anything to do, 
and whatever she undertook to do she set about it 


earnestly. Farmer Ashcroft, who was always giving 
her something or another, and as her grandmother said, 
" would, I believe, give her his head if it were loose, 
and she wanted it, and he could manage to do without 
it by any c mander ' of means," gave her a hen, then a 
nestful of eggs for it to hatch, and Alice had soon as 
fine a brood of chickens as were to be found in the 
whole village. By the time she was twelve, she had 
quite a large poultry-yard, and had such "luck" with 
them, as the neighbours called it, that she seldom lost a 
chicken; though all Alice's "luck" lay in good manage- 
ment, for like herself they had always a nice clean, fresh 
look. When she had no household work to do, she 
would take her sewing with her, and drive them 
out into the broad breezy common, which was 
close at hand, and there let them run about and 
pick up what they could find 4 while she kept her eye on 
them and her work at the same time ; and that was what 
kept them so healthy plenty of air and exercise, the 
same that caused such a rosy bloom to blush in her own 
soft cheeks. She could easier get half-a-crown apiece for 
her hens that were ready to lay than her neighbours could 
get a shilling each for their own draggled, dirty, and 
neglected poultry. Then the little market town was 
hardly two miles from the cottage, and she seldom went 
there to sell her eggs and poultry without bringing back 
a gill of raisin wine for her grandmother, especially in 
cold weather, because she always went to bed so warm 
and comfortable after taking a dessert-spoonful of it with 
a little hot water and sugar. 

Nor was it in the corn-fields alone that Alice and her 
grandmother gathered in their harvest during the season 
of golden autumn; for elderberries and blackberries 


abounded along all the miles of hedges that surrounded 
the neighbourhood ; there were also plenty of nuts in 
the old woods, and here and there among the ancient 
hedgerows, great sloe and bullace bushes, that bore fruit 
as large as damsons, and with a bloom on them like black 
grapes when they were ripened and purpled by the gentle 
frosts of October. There were also old pastures that had 
never been anything but grazing land within the memoiy 
of man, and there mushrooms sprang up plentifully, 
with gills as crimson as those of newly-caught fresh- 
water fish, and crowns as white as snow ; and Alice often 
arose in the gray dawn, and returned with a large basket- 
ful of mushrooms before her grandmother was up, and a 
famous price did these things fetch at times in the little 
market-town. Then her grandmother went with her 
" elderberrying, blackberrying, nutting, and sloeing " as 
the plain country people called the gathering of these 
wild fruits, and they took a little basket of provision 
with them, and remained out the whole day, where only 
the wild, free workings of Nature were to be seen for 
miles together, and scarcely a vestige of the handicraft 
of man ; nooks and corners where the flowers bloomed 
and died, unlocked upon saving by the birds, bees, and 
butterflies, and the wonderful insect inhabitants that 
revel and play amid their pollen and petals. They went 
together into the dim bowery hollows of the great woods 
in quest of nuts, where all was so still and silent, that 
when they stood at times to listen, their own breathing 
was the only sound that was audible. Even the tapping of 
the woodpecker seemed to make such solitudes " stiller 
by its sound." But most of all did Alice delight to sit 
and eat her dinner beside a large clear pool, that spread 
out in the centre of one of those ancient woods, showing 


like another sky, and reflecting every tree that grew on 
its wild margin. 

She loved to look at the great dashes of crimson 
thrown from the broad bunches of mountain-ash berries, 
and lying like fiery lamps as their shadows were mirrored 
in the water ; to see the woody nightshade, after it had 
shaken off the dark purple petals and golden anthers, 
hang out its berries of the richest scarlet, while looking 
as tempting as ripe red currants to the eye, though she 
well knew the danger there lay in tasting them. Thers 
too grew the gorgeous spindle-tree, which scarcely arresti 
our attention in summer, but now seemed as if covered 
with roses ; for so do the seed-vessels appear in autumn, 
when the capsules open like the petals of a beautiful 
flower. They gathered the fruit of the bird-cherry, 
which changes from green to red, and then into dark 
luscious purple, like the grape, and which they were wisfl 
enough to eat moderately, for well did granny know the 
consequences that had followed through indulging in the 
rich fruit immoderately, and she never failed in impart- 
ing her experience to Alice. But of all Alice's favourites, 
the dogwood, or wild cornel, was the greatest ; and the 
first time her grandmother pointed it out to her, she 
clapped her little hands, and began dancing around it to 
give expression to her feelings of delight, exclaiming over 
and over again, " Oh, how very beautiful !" To her 
childish eye it seemed like one of the fairy trees, trans- 
planted from the enchanted gardens she had read of in 
the wild stories her grandmother bought to amuse her ; 
for the good old woman be-.ieved that such imaginary 
tales exercised the fancy, and kept the mind at work 
better than dry details of facts, which Alice too often 
yawned over; and well might she fancy that such a 


"beautiful shrub had grown in fairyland, for the wood pro- 
duced nothing beside that resembled it in autumn, 
with its purple berries, red branches, and green and yel- 
low foliage, which, all mingled together, presented such 
a blaze of crimson and gold, spotted with jet, and dashed 
with green, that ifc dazzled the sight like looking upon a 
gorgeous bed of variegated flowers. Then there was the 
".kindling" of autumn! that firing up of the tree into 
all kinds of rich colours, as if torches of many-hued 
flames were applied to the foliage to make a blaze of all 
the green and faded garments of departed summer. She 
noticed the oak tinged with as many various hues, as if 
the decaying foliage of half a dozen different trees were 
massed together, so many are the tints it wears, beside 
browns of every shade. She saw the beech rising like a 
gigantic gorse-bush, covered every way with golden- 
coloured flowers, for so appears the burning orange of 
its myriads of changing leaves. She saw the ash throw 
off its leafy garment early, and knew that the seed 
bunches which remained would blacken and rattle in the 
winter winds, when nearly all the other trees were naked. 
She delighted to hear the rattle of the yellowish-green 
acorns above her head, and laughed merrily as they fell on 
her old battered bonnet, bringing down with them the 
carved cups which she had often set out on her tiny tea- 
table when a very little child, calling the larger ones 
saucers, and placing the smaller ones inside for tea-cups, 
while she played at a " make-believe " tea-party, and 
granny thanked her every time she handed to her the 
little acorn cup and saucer, and troubled her for a little 
more imagined sugar and fancy-made cream. Then as 
they sat together in the fading woods, her grandmother 
would moralize on the falling leaves, and tell her how 


another summer would see others waving on the branches 
which those had left naked, crowding in and filling up 
the vacant spaces, the same as another race would suc- 
ceed her and Alice when they were gone. And Alice 
would think it were better so than to leave the beautiful 
green curtains which summer had hung up every way, 
when they were tattered and worn, and discoloured and 
torn in every direction, and that autumn made room for' 
spring to come with her pale green arras, and give a new 
beauty and a fresh pattern to the foliage. And so her 
thoughts turned naturally in her fresh young life to the 
budding beauties of spring, while the mind of her grand- 
mother wandered beyond the decay of autumn to the dark- 
ness of winter, and looked not again for the spring that 
lay buried among the hidden flowers. Many a moral 
lesson did that good old woman read to her grand- 
child when they wandered together through those old 

It was very strange, but Farmer Fox never looked 
pretty Alice straight in the face, but loured at her from 
under the deep pent-house of his brows, or if she did 
happen to catch his eye, it was when he glanced at her 
sideways, and then he looked another way the very 
instant he saw her eyes fixed upon him. She was too 
young to notice this, and too innocent to entertain an 
evil thought against any one ; but this strange habit did 
not escape the keen glance of old Peggy Dixon, and in 
her plain-spoken way she said, " If he isn't a rogue he 
looks like one, and that's almost as bad. I feel certain 
in my own mind that he has wronged dear Alice in some 
way or another, for which his guilty conscience is ever 
accusing him, and that's why he can never look the 
child straight in the face." 


"It's a very bad thing, Peggy," the grandmother 
wonld reply, " to think ill of anybody, unless you have 
just cause, for I believe there are as many evil minds 
nnder handsome faces as there are under ugly ones. 
Nobody can help their looks ; what a body's like doesn't 
matter a pin, so long as the heart's in the right 

" Ah, well, we shall see some day or another, if we 
are only spared long enough," Peggy would answer ; 
" but I never knew any one yet whose heart was in the 
right place that couldn't look you straight in the face, 
unless they happened to squint. Fox by name, and fox 
by nature I say he is ; he gives everybody a roundabout 
answer, and there's nothing either plain or straight- 
forward in anything he does or says, that I can see. I 
would make him show that lease, if I had anything to 
do with it, or I would know why." 

Although Alice's grandmother tried to think well of 
everybody, and if she heard anything bad against a 
person, sat down and endeavoured to recollect all the 
good he or she had done, yet she could not call to 
remembrance any generous or noble action that she had 
ever heard of Farmer Fox doing, beyond allowing a few 
of tho *)oor villagers to glean before the corn was led 
out oJ the field, at the intercession of Alice. Before 
that time she had often heard of his driving the whole 
of the gleaners out of his fields, but even then she tried 
to believe some of them had done something wrong. 
The remarks of Peggy Dixon at length began to leave 
their impression on her mind, and she looked back into 
the past, and tried to recall events that had happened 
before Alice's father died. 

She remembered well the Reform riots, and how the 


corn-stacks in the neighbourhood were burnt, and flamed 
reddening on the dark winter midnight ; and how her 
son-in-law's house and stacks were reduced to ashes, and 
also how he had neglected to pay up his fire-insurance 
all this she remembered well. Also, how at that time 
he was laying out a deal of money on his farm, in drain- 
Ing, trenching, and planting, having as many as forty or 
fifty men at work, and how he had mortgaged that por- 
tion of the estate he was at work upon to carry out 
those improvements, which practical farmers said 
" they had no doubt it would pay well in the long ran, 
though it would be some years before he saw a shilling 
of his money back again." Nor had she forgotten what 
trouble her daughter had after his death, and when the 
mortgage was paid, what a few pounds were left after 
that part of the freehold was sold. That he had received 
a sum of money of Mr. Fox, and had granted him a 
lease of the remainder of the freehold, leaving him 
only to pay a rental of ten pounds a year, in considera- 
tion of the sum advanced at the time the lease was 
granted, she knew, not only from her daughter, but 
also through having been present when Mr. Fox paid 
the rent to Alice's father, and that was all she knew. 

Now it was a custom in this part of the country to 
grant at times what is called in law a lease parol that 
is, by promise only, or word of mouth on payment of a, 
certain rent. As for a written lease, it was often nothing 
more than a piece of paper, drawn up and signed by 
two homely farmers, the lessor and the lessee, the first 
of which is the person granting the lease, and the second 
the party to whom the lease is granted ; and this was 
done commonly, without ever thinking of employing a 
lawyer, or having oven witnesses, unless the lease was 


for a long term of years ; for among honest homely men 
the signature of each was held to be sufficient, and they 
were iu the habit of talking openly of what they had 
done, so that all the neighbours knew everything relating 
to one another's transactions. The case between Alice's 
father and Farmer Fox was an exception, because the 
latter was not a social man, was neither neighbourly nor 
friendly with anybody, nor ever entrusted a living soul 
with any of his important business or secret transactions. 
So he held the large farm, as he had done, for thirteen 
years, and paid his rental quarterly to Alice's grand- 
mother, but very rarely without giving her battered 
sixpences and shillings, worn so thin and smooth that it 
was difficult to tell one side from the other. At times 
Farmer Ashcroft used to laugh at his strange ways, take 
up the battered money, and give the old woman his 
newest coin in exchange, then pay it back again to 
Farmer Fox when he settled his malt bill, for Mr. Fox 
was both farmer and maltster. 

Curly-headed Bob everybody called him Bob, and 
he had a dog which was also named Bob, and when 
people called out " Bob" he ran, and the dog ran as if 
they both wished to see which of the two was wanted 
never went to school of a morning without first calling 
at grandmother's cottage to see if she wanted anything 
bringing from the little market-town. Nearly two miles 
there, and the same distance back, did curly Bob trudge 
night and morning, rain or fair, with his dog for a com- 
panion, and his books fastened together by a leathern 
strap ; now whistling, now singing, then picking up a 
stone to throw at a bird, or running a race with his dog 
one of the happiest, willingest, merriest, sharpest lada 
to be found in the whole village. 


"Ay ! he is his father's own son," old Peggy Dixon 
used to say ; " for I remember Farmer Ashcroft, when 
he was just like his boy Bob, and had the very same ways ; 
but I was a young woman then." 

Having thrust his happy face, which it was a pleasure 
to look at, through the open doorway, and asked the usual 
question, he would then add, "Can I do anything for you 
this morning, Alice, before I go to school ? if I can, I've 
got half an hour to spare." 

And so in time Bob came to do many things without 
asking, before he went or after he returned from school, 
and seemed to take as much pleasure in helping Alice 
as the pretty maiden did in attending on her grand- 
mother. And sometimes his heart so overbrimmed with 
pleasure, when she had found him any extra work to do, 
and detained him longer than usual, that he could not 
help saying, " Oh, Alice ! I do like to help you better 
than anybody in the whole wide world." Bob almost 
run as if he would break his neck with haste to do 
what a lazy, selfish boy would have gone crawling 
half a mile out of his way to have avoided. He drew 
water enough to last all day, for he said, " It is too 
hard work for Alice to turn the spindle, and haul up 
that great bucket fall ;" dug the garden, and helped her 
to weed it ; brought all the corn from his father's granary 
for her poulti-y what a many times Alice had asked 
Farmer Ashcroft how much she owed him for corn, and 
got no other answer than, " We will have a settling 
some day, and Bob shall make out the bill, and send 
it you along with his valentine, or I may want a chicken 
or two ; we'll see some time or another." But he con- 
tinued to pay for all the poultry he had, and never 
would find time to make out her bill. 


What happy mornings those were, when Bob called 
and found Alice ready to go to the market- town with 
him ! when he could help to carry the eggs, chickens, 
basket of mushrooms, blackberries, sloes, and bullaces, 
or, perhaps, some of the fruit out of her grandmother's 
garden. It was pleasant to watch that boy and girl, as 
they went together along the old footpaths through the 
sweet green fields, to hear her say, "I'm sure you must 
be tired now, Bob ; do let me carry my basket a little 
way to rest you." 

" Tired ! I'm no more tired than Bob," he would reply, 
" and could run about after him with this little weight 
on my arm the same as I do when I have only my books 
to carry. You don't know how strong I am, Alice ; 
why, I helped to stack the corn the other day, and 
used the longest fork, and that you know reaches quite 
as high as the top of the waggon when it's piled with 
a heavy load. Father said I pitched the sheaves up 
almost as well and as quick as our head man John. I 
never feel tired when I'm with you ; and look how hard 
you work to what I do." 

Didn't Bob make excuses to get out of the school 
and have a run into the market-place, to see how Alice 
was getting on ! for the little maiden paid a penny for 
her stool, or trestle, to rest her basket on, to the tollman, 
the same as the rest of the market-women, and took her 
stand amongst them, and showed herself quite a little 
business body towards her Customers. Then as Bob 
Always took his dinner with him to school, he brought 
it out and ate it in the market-place, making Alice have 
some, by either threatening to give it all to his dog, or 
not to taste a mite himself unless she had some too 
And by some kind of conjuring on the part of Bob's 


mother, there was always some dainty or another added 
to Bob's dinner when it was known that Alice was 
attending market ; such as a delicious fruit pie, cheese- 
cake, custard, and sometimes a pigeon pie, cold fowl and 
some ham, for Mr. Ashcroft was a wealthy farmer, and 
lived like a king. 

" It's rare being you, my pretty lass," Peggy Dixon 
would say, if she happened to have gone to market, and 
to have come up when Alice and Bob were having their 
dinners ; " I'm sure Mrs. Ashcroft is doing all she can 
to spoil you both, and I'll tell her so the next time I clap 
eyes on her. Well, if I must have a taste with you, why, 
I must, I suppose, though I didn't come for that. Why, 
Bob, your mother puts you up dinner enough to supply 
a family, I never saw such a mother in my life as she is, 

Mr. Ashcroft never failed calling on her, if he could 
steal a few minutes from his business in the corn or 
cattle market ; and Alice liked him to come to her with 
his cheery voice, and long spurs and top boots ; and very 
often, if she had sold out early, Bob coaxed his father 
to go with him to the school, which was close by, to ask 
for a half holiday, so that he might go look about the 
market with Alice, and then go home with her. 

One day the carrier brought two great butter maunds 
and a basket of cream cheese, and set his load down 
under the trestle on which Alice rested her little basket 
of eggs. " Whatever have you brought those to me 
for ?" said Alice to the carrier. 

" To sell, my pretty lass," was the answer. "Mrs. 
Ashcroft's head dairymaid was too ill to come with me' 
as usual, so she said I was to leave the baskets with you, 
and you were to do the best you could for her." 


So Alice got him to lift one of the heavy maunds on 
her trestle, nndid the clean white cloth, and displayed 
the pounds of butter made up in the shape of Bath 
buns, with beautiful scrolls of flowers, made by the butter 
print, running down the middle and along the sides of 
each pound, that were separated from one another by 
fresh-gathered vine leaves. She then spread out her 
cream cheese on a napkin, white as new-fallen snow, 
each cheese resting on a stand of fresh leaves, and all so 
fresh, and sweet, and beautiful that her little stall made 
the mouths of the lookers-on water again. Mrs. Ashcroft 
had also sent a small, silver-bladed knife, for the use of 
the customers who tasted the butter. There was one 
old woman who carried a pocketful of bread, and went 
round tasting all the butter in the market, which she 
spread on her bread first, and then never bought any. 
Alice had heard of her doings, and handed her a very 
small portion indeed on the point of her clean silver knife. 
" There's no telling what the taste is with such a mite as 
that," said the old woman, turning away in great wrath. 

It was a custom for the mistresses of many of the 
wealthiest families in the old-fashioned town to go out, 
followed by a servant, who carried the purchases in 
baskets, and buy what the family required for the week 
on a market-day. All of them had noticed Alice, and 
been customers at one time or another ; often ordering 
both garden and wild fruit of her, to preserve, especially 
in autumn, when the blackberries, sloes, and bullaces 
were ripe. Her sweet face, genteel figure, neac, clean, 
and homely dress attracted their attention, and they 
never passed her without exchanging a few kind words, 
even when she had nothing on her tiny stall that suited 
them. The rich look and neat way her butter was made 



at once attracted their attention, and she soon disposed 
of it, to the great disappointment of one or two ladies 
who had long been in the habit of purchasing Mrs. 
Ashcroft's butter, and who came too late on that day. 
But Alice, with ready tact, promised to bring them what 
they wanted on the following morning, and when that 
wouldn't do, Bob volunteered to set off at once for it, 
for he knew mother had plenty more made up ; so both 
old and new customers were satisfied; and in future 
Alice sold all Mrs. Ashcroft's butter, and had a penny 
allowed profit on every pound weight she disposed of. 
The carrier had soon to bring double the quantity the 
dairymaid used to sell, and many a cross old butter- wife 
was compelled to sell her stock to the shops wholesale, 
so many fresh customers did Alice and her sweet butter 
attract. But there were few such rich-growing pastures 
in the neighbourhood as Farmer Ashcroft's, and people 
believed that it was through the quantity of cowslips that 
grew in his fields, which caused his cows to yield such 
delicious milk and butter. The various articles sold on 
commission for Mrs. Ashcroft made a great addition to 
Alice's earnings, and enabled her to procure her grand- 
mother many additional comforts. 

One evening, rather late for him to visit, Bob came 
running in, his face red as fire, through speed, with an 
"Oh, Alice! oh, grandmother!" he always called the 
old woman grandmother because Alice did " I've been 
with our John this afternoon to look after two young 
heifers that had strayed, and we went as far as Ackford 
Wilding. I never saw such a place in my life. There 
are clouds of blackberries, nuts, and such big crab-trees, 
and hundreds of sloe and bullace bushes. I never saw 
such sights in my life. And mother says I may have a 


holiday all toy to-morrow, and go with you, and show 
you where it is, and help you to gather the blackberries, 
such big ones, and so ripe. John says there are miles 
and miles of bramble bushes in the Wilding. Will you 

" I'm afraid It's too far for me to go, Bob," replied 
the grandmother ; " it's a matter of four or five miles or 
more ; I've heard of the place, though I never was there ; 
and they do say it was never cultivated since the world 
stood. But Alice may go, if she pleases her legs are 
younger than mine." 

" I may as well go there as to Maythorn Stumps, 
and better," said Alice, " if the blackberries are so fine ; 
for Dr. Powell called on me last market-day, and said 
his good lady wanted two or three gallons to preserve, if 
I could get them very fine indeed ; and his lady always 
pays me a shilling a gallon for them ; and they do but 
run smallish at Maythorn Stumps this year. It's a long 
way for granny, but I'll go with you, Bob, and am 
thankful to you for telling me where I can find such fine 
ones for the doctor." 

" I never saw such whackers in my life," said Bob ; 
" they are big as mulberries." 

Bob little dreamed that he had been to a place which 
bore the same name as it did in the time of the Saxons 
Ackford, or the Ford of Oaks and was famous for its 
crab-trees beside, at that early period, which they called 
Wildings, meaning wild apples. But the ford had now 
dwindled to a narrow stream, though there were still 
traces of the embankments between which the river had 
flowed in ancient times, and the gnarled bolls of a few 
aged oaks, which had ceased from growing long centuries 
ago, excepting sending out, now and th^n, a few twigs 


from their hoary heads, while out of some grew a wild 
bush from their gray and weather-beaten summits, the 
seeds of which had, no doubt, been dropped by the birds. 

Alice had got all her work done next morning before 
breakfast had blackleaded the grate, washed the hearth 
and doorsteps, dusted every article in the room; the 
floor was only washed once a week, for there was but 
little dirt about grandmother's cottage ; she had also 
made a nice rice-pudding, ready to put in the oven for 
grandmother's dinner, with two of her own new-laid eggs 
in it, from the nest of her speckled hen, the finest 
" layer " she had got, and some cream out of a large 
jugful Mrs. Ashcroft had sent the day before. As for 
her own dinner, Bob had said she wasn't to put anything 
at all up to take with her, as his mother would fill a little 
basket, with plenty in it for them both. 

Bob came before the breakfast things were cleared 
away, basket in hand, with his head' thrust through the 
handle of another large basket, that sat on him like a 
wicker helmet that was to put the blackberries in. His 
presence was announced, as usual, by the dog, which 
came running into the cottage, then reared himself up 
on his hind-legs, with his fore-feet resting on Alice, and 
wagging his tail all the while she patted him, for that 
was the way he always introduced himself ; though in 
dirty weather she let him rest his fore-paws on her hands, 
as they were sooner washed than her dress. If his young 
master said, " Down, Bob, look how dirty your feet are," 
Alice would say, " Let him alone, Bob ; look how glad 
he is to see me ; he would say so if he could speak, and 
his feet are only on my dirty apron." Then she would 
stoop down, and kiss his rough, hairy, honest forehead, 
for Alice had a great love for all dumb animals. 


Then Bob placed the basket on the table he had 
carried carefully in both hands, and which was covered 
with a snow-white cloth, and looking at grandmother, 
said, " Please, mother has sent you a giblet-pie, for we 
killed two of our geese yesterday; and as she knew 
Alice would not be here to get dinner ready, she thought 
it would save you the trouble of cooking any thing. And 
mother said, if your oven happened to be hot, it would 
be all the nicer if you popped it in for about half an hour 
before you had your dinner. And I was to tell you to 
be sure and boil a mealy potato or two to eat with it, 
as the gravy's rather richish." 

The grandmother poured forth her thanks, while 
Alice put on her tight-fitting old pelisse and bonnet, and 
in another minute they were on their way to the Wild- 
ing, with Bob barking and bounding before them. 

It was a wild landscape there are very few such 
primitive spots remaining in England in the present 
day. It neither resembled park nor forest, heath nor wood. 
Whole acres of brambles and gorse-bushes, with patches 
of heather, fern, and broom, and grassy spaces at times 
between, formed a kind of border-land, that went in and 
out in jutting and receding masses, the bosky back- 
ground to the open waste over which they had already 
>c.ssed. Through these entangled and winding open- 
ings they threaded their way to the wilder and more 
lilent solitudes beyond, where oaks, and crab-trees, and 
aged thorns, and huge bushes were scattered here and 
there, like landmarks above the rank growth of under- 
wood, which formed an impassable barrier around many 
of them, so tall had grown the prickly gorse, so closely 
matted together were the hooked brambles. Then there 
were clumps of sloe and bullace bushes growing a score 


or two together, just as they had sown themselves or 
sent out fresh shoots year after year j and many of these, 
like the twisted and barkless thorns, were very aged. 
They passed so many islands of blackberries for such 
they might be called rising above the level and grassy 
openings, that they were at a loss which to halt before, 
as the farther they penetrated into the heart of the 
savage scenery, the bigger they fancied appeared the 
bramble-berries. At length they came to a broad belt 
of trees, through which meandered a wild sort of path, 
overhung every here and there with branches ; and 
when they had threaded .their way through the en- 
tangled maze, they came into another broad sunny 
opening, wilder than the one they had left behind. 
There was no resisting the blackberries that grew here ; 
they hung on the brambles in myriads, some so black 
and ripe that they fell off with the slightest touch, others 
of a hard red, some green, and here and there a few of 
the satin-like flowers were still in blossom, where they 
were screened from the sun and rain, and hung low 
among the grass and purple heath-bells. Then the fern, 
oh! what a blaze of gorgeous colour it threw out! 
orange and crimson, yellow and green, with great 
patches of brown, that seemed to burn again in the 
autumn sunshine, as it shot its golden light through 
and over the broad acres of fan-like leaves. And every 
here and there shot up above this sea of richly variegated 
foliage some gnarled and knotted tree, on whose twisted 
stem and branches hung long flakes of moss and lichen, 
silver gray, and green, and golden ; while below, in many 
places, grew large fungi, some of them as big as the 
crown of a hat, and coloured as richly as the variegated 
branches with which they were overhung. In other 


places thick bushes and the spiked gorse, stunted thorns 
and interlacing brambles, seemed to have struggled 
against one another for years to obtain the mastery, 
until at last, as if weary of the contest, they had twined 
their hooked arms lovingly together, and formed a dense 
underwood that was impenetrable to all excepting the 
smallest animals. 

Bob fancied that there were larger blackberries in 
those inaccessible thickets than in the open spaces, where 
there was no difficulty in gathering them, and made 
trwo or three attempts to obtain those beyond his reach, 
tearing his hands and clothes, and very rarely succeed- 
ing beyond a branch or two, which he dragged out with 
much labour. "While Alice kept on quietly filling her 
basket, Bob kept running hither and thither calling to 
her to " Come on, as they were much finer where he 
was ;" then, when she moved, helping her to get a hand- 
ful or two, and away again with Bob at his heels, on 
some new discovery, nor letting her have any rest until 
she once more joined him. 

They had penetrated above a mile into the very heart 
of this primeval solitude, for neither scythe nor sickle, 
priming-hook nor axe, had ever mown down a blade of 
grass, cut an ear of corn, pruned a branch, nor felled a 
tree in that uncultivated waste within the period of any 
recorded time, to be found in charter or ancient book, 
which only told of it as having been a hunting ground 
in the days of the old Saxon kings. Above a mile had 
they wandered, and filled more than one large basket with 
blackberries, before they sat down to eat their dinner 
beside a wild water-course. 

What a paperful of ham-rind there was for Bob, 
and how he wagged his tail while devouring it, then 


ran to the brook and lapped as if he meant bursting 
himself. Alice and her companion had slices of savoury 
veal and ham, with snch stuffing as only Mrs. Ashcroft 
knew how to make ; then there was an apple tart and a 
bottle of beer for Bob, and one of rich new milk for 
Alice, to say nothing of a cheese-cake, black on the top 
with currants ; beside which he had filled his pockets 
with ribston pippins, one of the finest-flavoured apples 
ever grown in our green Old England. 

Dinner over, they went on still farther into the Wild- 
ing, looked at the crabs which hiing in thousands on the 
old trees, golden in colour through very ripeness, and 
crimson as peaches on the sides that caught the sun, but 
making the teeth ache with their indescribable sourness 
if tasted, although they looked so tempting. Had 
grandmother been with them she would have moralized 
on those false-looking crabs, so sweet to appearance out- 
side and inwardly so sour like handsome faces beneath 
which very bad tempers are sometimes concealed. There 
were not so many nuts, only a few in sunny open places 
where the ranker underwood had not closed up and 
destroyed the hazels. As for sloes and bullaces, Bob 
showed her where bushels might be gathered in the 
course of a day ; but they wanted the frosty nights which 
come at the close of autumn to ripen them, when they 
would hang and purple the branches, with not a faded 
leaf beside them, as all would then have fallen. So they 
passed away the hours, having filled their baskets with 
' blackberries, eaten all their provisions, and emptied the 
bottles ; and now they noticed that the sun was fast 
sinking, and that there was a noise of rooks among the 
trees, a sure sign of the fast-coming autumn evening 
when they return to the woods. The baskets were very 


heavy. Bob insisted on carrying the two large ones, 
giving Alice the little one which had contained their 
provisions, and which was also full ; but they soon tired 
him, and he was glad to rest. 

"Are you sure we are going right, Bob?" asked 
Alice, looking round somewhat alarmed as the shadows 
of the trees began to deepen ; " I'm sure we didn't come 
this way. We never passed any trees so tall and thick 
as those." 

"That must be the west," answered Bob, pointing to 
the setting sun ; " and as the sun was at our backs when 
we set out this morning, and is again behind us now, 
we must be right, though we may not come out of the 
waste exactly where we came in. Trust to me, Alice, 
we shall be all right, never fear." 

They went on, and on, and the baskets of black- 
berries became heavier and heavier to carry, while every 
clump of trees they came near grew darker and darker, 
and even the noise of the rooks became less audible 
only the caw of one or two being heard, as if they were 
turning, half-asleep, to find a softer spot on the hard 

Bob at last, in spite of his brave heart, became 
alarmed ; and no sooner did Alice see this sign of fear 
in his face than she burst out crying, and exclaimed 

" Oh, Bob, we are lost ! whatever will dear grand- 
mother do ? She'll be setting out to seek us, old as she 
is, and catching her death of cold ; for she'll never rest 
at home without me. And your mother oh dear ! oh 
dear ! I wish we'd never come so far." 

" Don't cry, dear Alice," said Bob, rubbing his dirty 
knuckles in his eyes ; " we shall soon b? out into the 
open waste, and then I can find my way easy enough. 


Give me the big basket again ; I can carry two better 
than one, as they balance more easily. Look how the 
moon's rising over yonder trees ; it will be a deal lighter 
than it is now when she is a little higher." 

The dog had sat on his haunches, looking first at one 
then the other, sometimes with his head aside, as if con- 
sidering attentively all they said ; and no sooner did they 
rise from their seats, and pursue the same direction they 
had hitherto followed, than he commenced barking furi- 
ously and running a contrary way. In vain did his young 
master call to him ; though he came back, reared up 
and licked his hand, he refused to follow, but stood 
barking louder than ever. 

" I am sure the dog 'knows we are going wrong," 
said Alice ; " let us turn back and follow him. I have 
such faith in his sagacity, that I feel sure he will 
lead us safe out of this wild place into the open waste, 
if we do but let him have his own way and follow 

"You are right, Alice," answered Bob, "though I 
didn't think of it before. He has often gone on in that 
way, when I have lost myself in the woods. Good dog ! 
good boy ! Home, Bob, home." 

The dog set off at a gallop, was back again in a 
moment, running round then, and jumping up as if try- 
ing to lick the tears off Alice's soft cheeks, and seemed 
almost ready to jump out of his skin with delight when 
he found they were following him in the direction of 
home. It was a long weary walk before they arrived at 
the spot where they had eaten their dinner beside the 
brook, and the dog began lapping as if he would never 
leave off a gain, so hot and thirsty was he through running 
and barking. Both A lice and Bob also said they had never 


drank such sweet water before in their lives, for they were 
both parched with thirst, having emptied their bottles 
hours before, and there was not a drop of water in the 
spots they had since wandered over. 

" I feel quite strong again now," said Alice, " after 
that sweet water. I do think in another hour, Bob, I 
should have dropped down for want oi a drink. The 
blackberries I kept putting in my mouth only seemed 
to make me thirstier." 

" I kept champing a new leather boot-lace I had in 
my pocket," answered Bob ; " I should have offered you 
a bit to keep your mouth moist, only I kept on hoping 
we should soon come to water, and I didn't like to tell 
you how ' dry ' I was." 

" Isn't he a dear good dog ?" said Alice ; " look how 
he keeps running backward and forward, as if to hurry 
us on, and tell us how late it's getting. When we've 
passed through that woody part, let us leave the black- 
berries under the great oak, where we first rested, then 
coine for them to-morrow, or it will be ever so late 
before we get home with such a load." 

They passed through the broad belt of trees above 
which the large .full moon now shone, throwing a 
chequered light on the winding path, which Bob seemed 
to smell out for them, shortening his runs to and fro 
as if afraid they might again go wrong, and then they 
came into the open space, where there were patches of 
grass winding and opening between the clumps of trees 
and the wild underwood. The dog seemed to know that 
all danger was passed, and now ran in circles round 
them, leaping up, and ending with a long triumphant 
bark. Bob would not leave the heavy baskets of black- 
terries behind until they got clear out of Ackford Wild- 


ing ; he then promised to put them in a shed of wattled 
gorse-bushes, which he had noticed at a turning of the 
road, when he came with John to look after the stray 
heifers. The shed was nearly a mile off, still Bob toiled 
on right manfully with his heavy load, though his feet 
ached and his hands were blistered through the chafing 
of the basket handles ; as for the inside of his arms, at 
the bend of the elbow, they were raw through the 
weight he had carried so far. It was no use Alice offer- 
ing to help him now, the dear girl could hardly draw 
one foot before the other ; and though the tears Kept 
trickling down her cheeks through pain, weariness, and 
hunger, yet she always replied to Bob in a cheerful tone 
of voice whenever he spoke to her, and the shadow of her 
bonnet prevented him from seeing her fast- falling tears. 

At length they reached the outside of the Wilding, 
and came upon the road which divided it from the waste, 
and there they again sat down to rest. It was still four 
long miles from home, and along a road but rarely tra- 
versed, as there were only a few outlying farms near the 

" Why, it will be nearly midnight before we get 
home," said Alice ; " and oh what a way they will all be 
in at our being so late." 

" It will be rather latish," replied Bob ; " but remem- 
ber the sun sets about six, and the moon hasn't been up 
much above an hour, and I told mother as it was a long 
way we shouldn't be home before dark. I know you are 
very tired, Alice, and I am so sorry we lost our way. 
But after two more rests we shall be at the gorse-shed I 
told you off, and there I'll leave the baskets : then we 
shall get on well enough. Won't the doctor's lady bo 
pleased to get such fine blackberries ?" 


While lie was speaking lie noticed the dog prick up 
his ears, then saw him running a little way along the 
road behind them, when he stopped and began to bark. 
His sharp ears had detected the sound of a horse's hoofs 
long before the tramp, tramp of the measured trot came 
within their hearing. They soon saw the horseman 
coming up in the moonlight, he also saw where they 
were sitting, and drawing rein, came up at a walking 

" What are you young people doing here so late as 
this?" he asked, in anything but a pleasant tone of 
voice. " It's time you were at home, I'm sure ; that is, 
if you have got any home to go to." 

"Oh, it's Mr. Fox," said Alice. "I'm so glad it's 
you. We have been blackberrying, and lost our way 
in the Wilding, and have got such a quantity, and are so 
tired that we shan't be able to carry them home to-night. n 

" Why, who ever thought of meeting with you, Alice, 
so far from your grandmother, and so late as it's getting?" 
he said, in a pleasanter manner. " And Bob's tired too, 
I'll be bound. What a way you have come to gather a 
parcel of rubbish. I should have thought you might 
have found blackberries enough nearer home. My 
hedges are covered with them. Well, I can't leave you 
here ; as to the blackberries " 

" I can leave them in the gorse-shed until morning," 
said Bob ; " that's what I was going to do before you 
came up." 

" They'll never be there in the morning, Bob," 
answered the farmer. " I saw some gipsies encamped 
a little way down the road, and they hunt out every hole 
and corner in the neighbourhood, where they think 
there's anything to be found. They are too lazy 


to even gather the blackberries, unless it be a few to eat 
on the spot. Let's see what can be done. Come here, 
Alice, now give a spring. There, yon are right enongh." 
As he spoke he stooped from his saddle, and placing 
one hand nnder the pit of Alice's arm, lifted her as easily 
into his saddle, and seated her before him, as if she had 

been a two-years-old child. Farmer Fox was a man of 
great strength. Bob then handed np the two large 
baskets of blackberries, one of which Alice rested on her 
knee, and the other, of which he said he could carry on 
His own arm. 



" Now, Bob, lay hold of my leg, and climb up be- 
hind me, then off we go ; mind the spur." 

Bob was up in a moment, seated behind the farmer, 
and Alice on the saddle pommel before him, and he 
managed to hold both her and the basket with one arm, 
while the horse set off again at his old familiar trot, as 
if perfectly unconscious of any addition to his load, Bob 
running and barking beside them in the dusty and moon- 
lighted road. 

When they had ridden about two miles they met a 
light cart containing Farmer Ashcroft and two of his 
men, on their way to Ackford Wilding, to look for Alice 
and Bob, for as it grew darker the good farmer and his 
wife began to be alarmed for the safety of the children, 
and grandmother had already sent twice for Alice, and 
they had promised her she should come home soon, 
fearful to send word she had not yet returned. 

Great was the delight of Farmer Ashcroft and his 
men to meet the children, for they had set out, fully ex- 
pecting a long and weary search in the Wilding before 
they were found. 

Farmer Fox made no reply to Mr. Ashcroft's profuse 
thanks, beyond saying, " You may bundle Bob and the 
baskets into the cart ; I shall keep Alice where she is 
We shall be home before you, and I'll put her down at 
your door." Saying which, he put his horse into a 
canter, and found Alice asleep when he pulled up at 
the great porch which made a shadow before Mr. Ash- 
croft's farm-house door. The gentle motion of the 
horse, and the soft resting-place she had found by lean- 
ing all her weight on the great broad manly chest of 
Farmer Fox, added to the fatigue she had undergone, 
sent her to sleep within a minute after they started, and 


as Mr. Fox said, when Mrs. Ashcroft lifted her down 
and kissed her, " I do believe, if my old horse could 
have kept on cantering until day dawned, and she had 
never been wakened, she would have slept as soundly as 
if she had been in bed, she seemed to lay so easy, and 
she's as light as a feather." 

At the pressing invitation of Mrs. Ashcroft, he 
drank a glass of her home-brewed ale without dis- 
mounting, and then rode up to the grandmother's, 
knocking with the heavy handle of his whip on the 
garden-gate, and saying when she came out, " Don't 
be alarmed about Alice, they're only keeping her to 
have a bit of supper. Mrs. Ashcroft said I was to 
tell you." 

" I'm sure it's very kind of you to call, Mr. Fox, and 
I'm extremely obliged to you." Then entering her 
cottage, she said to herself, " If there wasn't a little of 
something good in that man, he wouldn't have ridden 
out of his way even to deliver a kind message from a 
neighbour. Well, the worst word I ever said against 
him was I never knew any harm of him, though he 
doesn't look you straight in the face, which I suppose is 
a way some people's got, and that they can no more 
help it than some can help stuttering." 

Seldom were grandmother's lily-white window-blinds 
seen down so late as on the following morning ; but the 
" early bird," as the good neighbours fondly called Alice, 
was more tired than usual, and remained longer in her 
warm little nest, and felt ashamed when she awoke to 
see the sunshine lying golden on the garden walk, instead 
of the gray light, which was hardly day, that she was 
accustomed to see on first rising in the mornings of 
autumn. As to Bob, he was so footsore, and his arms 


so stiff and painful through carrying the heavy baskets 
of blackberries, that a note was sent by a neighbour who 
had business at the little market-town, to state that he 
wouldn't attend school again for a day or two. Even 
the dog didn't seem so eager to run out of doors as 
usual on the following morning, but curled himself up 
at his young master's feet, and had an extra nap while 
he sat reading. 

When grandmother told Peggy Dixon all about 
Farmer Fox picking up the children by the roadside and 
mounting them on his horse, together with their load 
of blackberries, Peggy began to rub her hand to and fro 
across her sharp old projecting chin a habit of hers 
when she was puzzled and said, at last 

" Well, neighbour, I can only account for it in one 
way : he had had such a fright when he came up to the 
gipsy encampment for he's been very hard on 'em, and 
they have threatened what they would do when they 
met him alone that in return for such a narrow escape 
he felt bound to do some little good in some way or 
another. But I'll no more think him kind-hearted for 
that, than I'll believe old Scampton, the carpenter, will 
ever turn out a downright sober man, as he vows he 
will during his long fits of illness, brought on through 
drunkenness, when he breaks out again worse than ever, as 
soon as he's recovered. When he brings you his lease 
to look at, I may perhaps try to think a little better oi 
him, but not before." 

" Well, I don't know what to say to it," replied 
grandmother ; " he has a many queer ways of his own, 
and f.o have other people, come to that. And I don't 
think Mr. Ashcroft would be so friendly with him as he 
is ii he didn't tind something good about him in some 


way or another. I never heard that Mr. Fox wronged 
or injured anybody in his life ; and one can't say that 
of every one we know, Peggy." 

Events happened, as they do in everybody's life, 
important only to those who take a part in them, ifntil 
Time who rolls the Past down his misty steep into the 
Valley of Forgetfulness, where 

" Memory, when she nfeimes that vale, 
Speaketh quite low, and looketh pale ;" 

brought round once more the eve of Alice's birthday, 
when she would have attained her fifteenth year. Ever 
since she was seven, her grandmother had made a little 
feast on Alice's birthday, when there was plenty of tea 
and plumcake, though the latter was often made from 
the corn they had picked up, ear by ear, in the brown 
and burning harvest-fields of Golden Autumn. Her 
juvenile guests came in their holiday attire, and there 
was as much rivalry among the little cottage maidens, 
in their glass-bead necklaces and bits of gaudy ribbon, 
as is displayed in the children of fashion at a Christmas 
party. This year all was altered ; her birthday was to 
be kept in Mr. Ashcroft's large old-fashioned farmhouse, 
and Mrs. Ashcrofc had set about making such prepara- 
tion as only a wealthy farmer's wife can make, who 
has every luxury at her command, and has to pur- 
chase nothing beyond a few trifling articles at the 

The reason for this change w r as given in rather a 
mysterious manner by Mr. Ashcroft, who only said to 

" We shall have a visitor that you little expect meet- 
ing, and one I am sure both yourself and Alice will bo 
glad to see. My wife has invited all the young poopie 


in the village, and we are going to throw the house cn f , 
of the windows, so that there may be plenty of room fur 
them to have a dance. And she has sent this for Alice," 
and he laid down a parcel containing a beautiful new 
silk dress, also one of Alice's old ones which Mrs. Ash- 
croft had obtained by some excuse, to send to the dress- 
maker's so as to get a fit, unknown to Alice. 

The tea prepared needs no description ; there were 
cakes that melted in the mouth ; as for the great hot 
supper, there was a smell of roast goose and sucking 
pig, fowls, a large ham, and you couldn't see what 
beside, for the steam that filled the parlour as soon as 
the covers were removed from the dishes. Peggy Dixon 
helped to wait at the table, and she said, " It was like 
one of the club-feast dinners given once a year at the 
" Ram Inn," where there was everything in season, and 
everything else beside, some with names she never heard 
in her life before." 

The dancing had commenced, and Alice was sitting 
down resting herself beside her grandmother having 
been led out by two or three partners both of them 
looking anxiously every now and then towards the door, 
and wondering who the visitor could be Mr. and Mrs. 
Ashcroffc had spoken of, when the honest farmer jumped 
up from his chair, exclaiming, " Here he is at last. I'm 
right glad to see you, Mr. Fox, take a glass of my 
missus's home-made wine," and as he spoke he shook 
Farmer Fox heartily by the hand, who preferred a glass 
of home-brewed ale as he said, " before all the wine in 
the world." 

He then drew a chair between Alice and her grand- 
mother Hr. Ashcroffc and his wife also joining them, 
and wishing Alice " many happy returns of the day, 


and plenty of them," he finished his glass of ale, and 
putting a paper in grandmother's hand, said, " You'll 
find Bank of England notes here, grandmother, which 
you'll take care of for pretty Alice, for four hundred and 
twenty pounds, beside five cent, interest for seven years, 
on the whole amount, which Mr. Ashcroft will show you 
is all right to the very shilling. I had a lease of Alice's 
father for seven years, for which I advanced him all the 
money excepting the ten pound a year I have since paid : 
it was also renewable for seven more years, if I liked, 
at seventy pounds a year, which I paid before I had any 
lease at all. That packet contains the last seven years* 
rent, for I have had the farm that time since the first 
lease expired. As Mr. Ashcroft was in some sort of way 
Alice's guardian, he knew all about it, and approved of 
what I have done ; for he thought if Alice was brought up 
to know what it was to be poor, and had to work for her 
living, it would be better for her in the end than if she 
was trained up to idleness, and never taught to know the 
value of money through the want of it ; I agreed with him. 
And now I shall be very glad to renew the lease at an 
advance of ten pounds a year, which will be eighty pounds, 
to be paid quarterly, or half yearly, just as you may agree 
amongst you. And now I wish you all a very good 

And he arose from his chair, kissed Alice, and went 
out without uttering another word. 

"Well, I shall never take anybody by their looks 
again," said Peggy Dixon, who had stood by all the time, 
and heard every word that was said. " But I must say 
it was very sly of you, Mr. Ashcroft, knowing ail about 
it, to be laughing in your sleeve at me, when I was run- 


ning him down because he wouldn't show his lease." 
And so Peggy managed to divide the blame. 

Alice hangs on Bob's arm now when they go out for 
a walk or to church, and he wears his hat cocked on one 

He has given her his dog, and on the collar there is 
engraved "Bos TO ALICE." 

"It's the dog's name," said Bob, "and they may 
take it for somebody else's if they like." 

It took Bob some time to make that puzzle as he 
called it. 




I ONCE spent a summer in 
Derbyshire ; it was an ar- 
rangement made to fill up 
the interregnum between my 
leaving Eton and graduat- 
ing at Oxford, and I have 
always looked back to the time with pleasure. Two 
other lads, of about my own age, shared with me the 
instructions of the highly-talented and excellent tutor 
with whom we were placed. His abode stood in a 
retired village in one of the loveliest of valleys, through 
which the Wye wound its course, amid quickly-changing 
scenes of bold ruggedness and luxuriant woodlands. 



We tad many a pleasant day's fishing, many a delight- 
ful expedition to explore the numerous natural curiosities 
of the neighbourhood the magnificent crags, the won- 
drous masses of rocks, the ranges of shadowy pointed 
eminences, the vast caves the Peak Cavern in par- 
ticular, the most remarkable of them all, with its mighty 
entrance arch of forty-two feet high and one hundred 
and twenty feet wide, designed by no human architect, 
but built by Nature's hand alone ; the lead-mine, another 
attraction ; while the greatest lion of all was the Blue 
John mine, whence the curiously beautiful spar called 
Blue John is obtained. We descended into it by a 
flight of uneven, winding steps, each carrying a piece 
of lighted candle, every now and then coming upon 
sharp turnings and jutting rocks covered with beautiful 
white stalactites, and looking down into black yawning 
chasms till we reached the bottom cave, an open, exten- 
sive space, the inside of which, lined with purple sparry 
incrustations, reflecting the lights of the candles, and 
the crimson and blue fires by which the cavern was 
illuminated by the guides, formed a most dazzling spec- 
tacle, conjuring up to the imagination quite a scene of 
underground fairyland. 

Yes, I maintain that, with its fossils, spars, and 
caverns, its wooded vales and wild features of scenery, 
Derbyshire, on the whole, presents more variety and 
interest than any other English county, and would even 
rival Devon in beauty were it not for the azure sea that 
washes the roseate cliffs of the southern shore, and \ 
forms tho principal charm of that fair region. 

External circumstances certainly affect the inward 
feelings. The beautiful view appearing between the 
clumps of trees, beneath which, on bright balmy dajs, I 


used to lie full length, basking, with my books beside 
me, in the meadow in front of Ashfield Cottage, always 
seemed to give an impetus to my ideas, and zest to any 
particular study I was employed upon ; whilst, with so 
many objects in view for walks, I was made to stretch 
my legs, to exert my physical powers more than I had 
ever done before, for I was naturally of a sedentary, or, 
to speak plainly, an indolent disposition corporeally 
indolent. As to my mind, I was apt rather to overwork 
it. There was no merit in this, quite the contrary. It 
was no sacrifice to me to let the sunny hours go by, 
whilst I translated fine passages from Greek or Latin 
authors, or evening steal into night whilst I worked 
out a perplexing algebraical problem, for there was 
fascination to me in these pursuits. It often required 
much more resolution to throw aside my Homer or 
Euclid, and allow myself to be dragged forth by my 
more active-bodied, less erudite fellow- students to a 
game of fives, or to assist in preparing the tackle for 
the next fishing excursion. 

Not that I despised active, manly sports ; on the 
contrary, in my Eton days I felt greater admiration for 
the best cricketer than for the first classic scholar, pro- 
ficiency in the one point appearing to me so far more 
unattainable than the other, and I would almost have 
relinquished the honours of dux to have been hailed 
Captain of the Eleven. Xo one now can be a greater 
advocate than myself for the athletic sports which have 
been introduced into many of our public schools ; for, 
besides vigour of body naturally tending to strength 
and activity of mind, the self-control, perseverance, 
and endurance absolutely incumbent on those training 
for the contest of the course or leaping-bar, are most 


effective and salutary counteractions to the system of 
self-indulgence, which is far too much the fashion of 
the present day. 

But I was telling you that one of my faults was 
indolence; I must now plead guilty to a still more 
powerfully- prevailing weakness shyness; and if any 
of you, my readers, are troubled with symptoms of this 
mental affliction, I entreat you to struggle bravely 
against them. Far be it from me to recommend bold- 
ness or presumption in young people, but, on the other 
hand, it is most important that the opposite extreme 
should be avoided, especially as in a measure it arises 
from too much thought of self, a species of pride and 
egotism which is condemnable, besides rendering its 
possessor very disagreeable to others, and most uncom- 
fortable in himself. Nothing can be more discouraging 
than the manners of a very shy person. I verily believe 
that noisy, volatile, and foolish as they often were, 
Mr. Marshall found his other two pupils far more easy 
and agreeable to deal with than myself, who never 
gave him any trouble at studies ; for whereas, open and 
free as day, they were continually consulting him, and 
confiding to him all their trifling wants and wishes 
and confidence ever begets sympathy my backward- 
ness in speaking out, my constant shrinking as it were 
into myself, often conveyed the idea of ungraciousness 
or discontent little intended, but which annoyed my 
good tutor, and entailed vexation on myself. So it was, 
as you will hear, in the instance of my longest walk. 

One morning the post brought Mr. Marshall a letter 
which caused him some perplexity. Urgent business 
required his presence in London for several days ; but 
how could he leave his pupils or dispose of them in his 


absence ? West and Lacy, with their wonted readiness 
nnd self-possession, immediately took upon themselves 
to settle the matter as far as they were concerned. 
Their homes were near one another, only about twenty 
miles distant from Ashfield. Nothing could be easier 
or pleasanter than that the coach, which so conveniently 
passed Mr. Marshall's gates three days out of the week, 
should take them up there the following morning, and 
in due course of time drop them in their respective native 
villages. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, all would 
be overjoyed to see them; and, in fact, Mr. Marshall 
knew this would be the best plan, and that he might 
venture to despatch the lads with merely a note of ex- 
planation, so it only remained to arrange for me. 

Now, my home being in the far north county, and, 
moreover, my family being on a short foreign tour at 
the time, I could not be stowed away so conveniently ; 
but anxious to relieve the worthy man from his dilemma, 
perhaps not with the promptness of the other boys, or 
in quite as clearly and courteously-worded sentences as 
might have been, I intimated to him that he need not 
trouble himself in the least about me, I could take very 
good care of myself, and should like nothing better 
than to left there quite alone ! 

Mr. Marshall, while unable to repress a smile at my 
bluntness, thanked me cordially for my proposal, took a 
little time to deliberate, then accepted my offer; and 
certainly it much gratified me to mark the confidence 
he placed in me, and to hear him say, when we hap- 
pened to be left together, how impossible it would have 
been for him to have trusted either Lacy or West in the 
same way, but that he should feel perfectly comfortable 
about me ; he only hoped I should not be dull. 


Dull ! what waste of sympathy ! No fear on that 
score. I was already revelling in the anticipation of 
my solitude, and of accomplishing a scheme I had 
thirsted for, namely, of spending a long summer's day 
at Haddon Hall. 

Mr. Marshall had often proposed an excursion to 
that famed place, but somehow I had disliked the idea 
of beholding it in company with West and Lacy, who 
had no more romance in their natures, or a greater 
taste for antiquities, than many of the hundreds of 
sightseers who now flock by holiday trains to picnic 
within the hallowed precincts of the old gray hall. 
Their ignorant, senseless remarks, their speedy weari- 
ness of what I knew would thrill my heart with rapture, 
I could not have stood with patience : but to explore 
the scene alone, to be able unmolested to trace out each 
spot of famed historic lore, to have time to muse on the 
celebrated personages of bygone days, who had trodden 
the same classic ground so long ago, there was ecstasy 
to me in the very idea. 

And then the walk would be delightful, through 
cool hazel woods, with deep dells and bubbling stream- 
lets, through little quaint gray stone villages, winding 
lanes, and verdant slopes and meadows. In fact, I con- 
sidered this unexpected summons of Mr. Marshall's a 
perfect boon, and longed for the next day, when I 
should be left " monarch of all I surveyed." 

I felt quite flattered by the thorough approval of 
this arrangement expressed by Mrs. Jellicoe, the house- 
keeper, a great authority in the establishment. I was 
an immense favourite with the old lady. Such a civi - 
spoken, quiet young gentleman had never before come 
Into the house ; indeed, barring that one fault of occa- 


sionally letting my candles, in my deep absorption over 
a figure in algebra, gutter down with a sad waste into 
the brightly-polished candlesticks, she had not a word 
to say against me. So different from those harum- 
scarum lads, Masters West and Lacy, who made no end 
of work, scrambling head foremost up the staircase, 
leaving large clots of mud on each step, and filling their 
rooms with reptiles. (This was in reference to an unfortu- 
nate lob- worm, which, having wriggled itself out of Lacy's 
tin can, she once found curling itself into uncomfort- 
able contortions on the floor of his dormitory.) And they 
had been the cause of the housemaid narrowly escaping 
a lock-jaw, a fly-hook having entered her knee while she 
was in the act of performing some scrubbing evolutions. 
Then, in the matter of clothes, after a gentle hint not 
to dot down calculations in minute figures on my wrist- 
bands, almost invisible at the time, but which came 
forth plainly to view the following week in a cluster of 
little yellow iron-moulds, I was a perfect pattern, hardly 
ever requiring a stitch to be put in for me ; whereas 
those tvild 'uus so she wratbfully designated my com- 
panions let alone their crooked rents and tears, with- 
out scruple would wrench off button after button, and 
even sometimes cut slits in the button-holes, when they 
did not perform their office quickly enough to suit their 
impatient moods. 

Her eyes beamed with animation, and a benign 
smile lit up her features, as, on being summoned into 
Mr. Marshall's presence, he informed her of the in- 
tended plans ; and I believe the next moment her com- 
prehensive, energetic mind was sketching the whole 
design, not only for turning Lacy and West's rooms 
completely inside out, but for lavishing every kind of 


indulgence on me, quite rejoicing in this opportunity of 
testing her appreciation of my merits. 

Alas ! vain indeed is the purpose of mortals ! Kind 
Mrs. Jellicoe's intentions and gratifying attentions were 
doomed to be frustrated, and though. I did behold 
Haddon Hall the next day, it was not in the blessed 
solitude I had fondly dreamt of. 


MORNING came; Lacy and West at earliest daybreak 
commenced sundry fidgety, noisy preparations for their 
departure; and even when we imagined them fairly 
started, West re-appeared, crimson and breathless, to 
tear up-stairs to seize upon some pet fly he had for- 
gotten. It was a relief to hear the coach whirl swiftly 
round the turning of the lane carrying them off at last. 
Mr. Marshall was to walk a mile to catch the London 
coach in a different direction, his portmanteau having 
already been sent on, and it only remained for him to 
give a few final directions, and he would depart also. 
In fact, he was on the point of bidding me adieu, when 
carriage-wheels were heard grinding over the gravel up 
to the front door ; and as we were wondering who such 
early visitors could be, there were ushered into the 
dining-room, Mr. and Mrs. Harrowby, old friends of my 
family, but whom I had little expected to see in that 
part of the world. 

They, however, explained that they were on a tour, 
that it was their intention to visit Chatsworth and 
Ha'c&on Hall that day, sleep at Manchester, and proceed 
the following morning en route for the Cumberland 


lakes. On Mr. Marshall's acquainting them with the 
state of affairs at the Cottage, Mr. Harrowby drew his 
wife aside, conferred with her in an under tone for a 
few moments, then came forward, and with the pleased 
air of one imagining he is about to bestow a great 
favour, invited me to join them on their expedition ; 
and while I stood dumb with dismay at the bare idea of 
such a thing, he had arranged the whole affair with 
Mr. Marshall. In returning from the north they were 
to pay a visit which would cause them to diverge some- 
what from the regular route ; but that would only be 
the more convenient for me, since I could accompany 

them to E , through which place the Chester coach 

passed, and from Chester I should be able to proceed 
direct back into Derbyshire. 

Now, it might have been difficult, without appearing 
ungracious, to have immediately raised objections to 
this hearty and kindly-meant offer in Mr. Harrowby's 
presence ; but why, when wishing not to delay Mr. 
Marshall's departure, he had gone with Mrs. Harrowby 
to explore the village and its environs, and I was left 
alone with my tutor, did I not confide in him, tell him 
how much I should prefer remaining, as had been first 
intended, at Ashfield ? He could easily have made ex- 
cuses for me ; and when the good man casually remarked 
that I should have to return part of the way on my own, 
responsibility, but that he supposed I had sufficient 
funds about me to meet the consequent expenses, why, 
oh ! why was I silent, thereby allowing him to infer 
that the purse then resting in my fob was heavy and 
well lined, instead of containing merely a half-sovereign 
and eighteenpence ? 

I had no regular allowance ; my father was liberal in 


the extreme, and placing perfect trust in my prudence 
and moderation, sanctioned my drawing upon Mr. Mar- 
shall for what sums I required. There were but few 
temptations or opportunities for spending money in that 
remote locality, and it was knowing this, coupled with 
the circumstance of my having obtained from him a 
remittance but a short time previously, which prompted 
Mr. Marshall's observation regarding the supposed 
favourable state of my finances. But besides having 
lately invested rather a large sum in a birthday present 
for one of my sisters, of Blue John spar ornaments, I 
had allowed Lacy and West to get into the habit of 
borrowing from me. They were restricted in their 
allowance, and possessed an amazing facility in getting 
rapidly rid of it ; and when they used to come to me 
with the usual, " Do, Liddell, there's a good fellow, just 
lend me half-a-crown till Monday, for I am regularly 
done up," I used to think, what a very uncomfortable 
sensation it must be, that of finding oneself without 
money or the power of obtaining it, and I had not the 
heart to refuse them. 

But when the next Monday came and went, ay, 
and many another Monday too, and these debts, instead 
of being discharged, were only added to, was I not 
highly blamable not to call them to account ? I believe 
the lads to have been free from all dishonourable, dis- 
honest intentions, but they presumed on my well-known 
indolence, on my carelessness in the matter, and on 
the conviction that I should rather lose the money than 
ask them point blank to return it. Often, when I think 
of the after life of one of these boys, the painful ques- 
tion will arise to my mind, whether the first seeds of 
bis wild, reckless course of extravagance might not pos- 


sibly have been sown at Ashfield Cottage, and through 
my instrumentality, my weakly shrinking from per- 
forming my bounden duty towards him ? Ah ! there is 
no self-reproach too great for one who has even un- 
consciously and indirectly caused a weaker brother to 
go out of the right way, for it is an offence which, how- 
ever deeply deplored and repented of, can seldom if 
ever be repaired. 

But I might have obtained a further supply of 
money, without in the least inculpating my friends, or 
saying a syllable about the heavy bill which, the evening 
before, to ease "West's mind and send him home free 
from care, I had paid for him at the village shop ; then 
what could have induced me to allow Mr. Marshall to 
depart, and leave me with only eleven and sixpence to 
carry me through all the chances and exigencies of 
the ensuing week ? Nothing but my impenetrable re- 
serve, my absurd sensitiveness regarding the bringing 
forward of any subject relating solely to myself, my 
individual feelings and wishes ! 

To this day I remember the sickening feeling which 
came over me when, left alone, I thought of the con- 
flict before me. Everything tended to make the idea 
of this expedition distasteful. Mr. Harrowby was what 
is called fond of drawing people out, of probing their 
thoughts and opinions by searching questions rather a 
formidable character to a shy person ; then his son 
was of the party, whom I recollected as a precocious, 
spoilt boy, with a peculiar knack of saying everything 
most mal a propos, and thereby making people feel un- 
comfortable ; and then the climax of all my pecuniary 
difficulties ! 

Mrs. Jellicoe, I think, remarked my discomfiture, 


ftnd she too looked a little vexed and disappointed, as 
she packed up for me a very limited supply of clothes in 
a small folding wallet, Mr. Harrowby having stipulated 
that I should add as little as possible to their luggage. 
Nothing could persuade her, however, to omit including 
an evening shirt, with a cambric front and plaited 
ruffles, an article of dress once in vogue, though quite 
out of fashion, I believe, now-a-days, but which she 
seemed to consider quite indispensable for the occasion. 
Mr. Harrowby's carriage was a post-chariot, with a 
rumble behind. I at least hoped to share the outside 
place with the lady's-maid, where, out of sight of the 
occupants of the interior, I might have been exempt 
from conversing ; but even this boon was denied me, 
Master Willie having appropriated that elevated posi- 
tion to himself ; so I had to enact the part of " bodkin,' * 
to sit, or pretend to be sitting, between Mr. and Mrs. 
Harrowby, for the space afforded me was a mere 
mockery of a seat, and in reality I supported myself by 
resting my knees on a high, baize-covered desk at the 
bottom of the carriage, at the imminent risk of being 
pitched forward, with my face against the windows, at 
every jolt or swing of the vehicle ; and I had to answer 
question after question, while my thoughts were con- 
stantly with the money, which was not merely burning 
in my pocket, but searing into my very heart, against 
which it rested. Under these circumstances it is not 
to be supposed that I was able to carry on a very 
animated conversation, and from some remarks Mr. 
Harrowby made, sotto voce, it was evident he considered 
that an over amount of study had depressed my spirits 
and dulled my intellect, and that it was high time I 
should have rest and relaxation. 


Ifc was a relief to leave my confined quarters to ex- 
plore the magnificence of Chatsworth, to have my 
thoughts diverted for a time from its annoyances by the 
various attractions of that princely place the sculpture 
gallery, fine paintings, the library with its choice col- 
lection of many generations, the gigantic conservatories, 
the arboretum, the fountains ; but the grandeur of this 
celebrated modern residence, much as it astonished and 
pleasedme,was almost forgotten onmy beholding Haddon, 
that unique specimen of a noble country home of the 
olden times. With its Eagle Tower, which Willie and I 
ascended, its bridge, ancient gateway, and wide court- 
yard, its old chapel and hall, and the enchanting views 
from its lofty parapets, its garden, and yew-shaded ter- 
races, it even exceeded in beauty and romantic charm all 1 
had pictured it to my imagination. With what thrilling 
interest did I pace the long gallery ball-room, then pass 
through it into the ante-chamber, out of the doors of 
which, on the night of a grand ball, when the guests 
were dancing, sweet Dorothy Vernon, the heiress of 
Haddon, stole down the flight of now broken, moss- 
grown steps, and eloped with her true love, Sir John 
Manners, and thence became the ancestress of the illus- 
trious house of Rutland. I should have liked to have 
explored every corner and crevice, to have lingei-ed in 
the gallery looking down into the banqueting-hall, 
trying to imagine the scene it had once presented ; but, 
besides our time being limited, Willie had been con- 
fided to my guardianship, and I had to keep a constant 
eye on him, lest he should get into mischief or danger. 
But I found him much more tractable and accommo- 
dating than I had expected ; school had done wonders 
for him since we last had met, and he took to me so 


warmly that, when we had to start acrain on our journey, 
he insisted on my making a third in the rumble, which, 
though still very close quarters, I infinitely preferred to 
the inside of the carriage. 

I think I won his heart by explaining to him 
the different objects we saw ; by telling him stories of 
Haduon, of the knights and ladies who once dwelt 
there ; and as we stood together in the fine old kitchen, 
I had pointed out to him the old time-worn bench, still 
standing beside the huge fire-place, and had given him 
the account of the wonderful feat once performed by 
the running footman. Did you never hear it, Readers? 
It was the custom in former times for every family 
of consequence to keep youths, trained from their infancy 
to swift walking or running, to carry letters and mes- 
sages to distant places, and it was astonishing how 
rapidly they sometimes accomplished their missions. 
One of these lads kept at Haddon Hall was one evening 
desired, by his master, to set off at daybreak to convey, 
with all possible speed, a letter to Bolsover Castle, in 
Nottinghamshire, and bring back the answer. The 
youth, having perfectly understood the order, his master 
was surprised and very angry when, the next morning, 
on descending into the kitchen, he found the messenger 
reclining on a wooden bench fast asleep. He began to 
beat the poor lad with a sharp riding-whip, with each 
lash showering abuse and reproaches on him ; and after 
all it turned out, that when he had received the letter the 
evening before, the youth had taken a few hours' 
repose, then set out about midnight, and returned some 
hours before noon, having performed the unprecedented 
feat, of walking not much less than a hundred miles in 
that short time. 


Willie, who like most quick, forward children, had 
abundance of imagination and a strong love of the mar- 
vellous, was delighted with this anecdote ; and as we 
drove along he continued to talk about it, and excited by 
the subject, to give sundry evidently highly embroidered 
accounts, of wonderful exploits he had himself achieved 
in the walking line, till we reached Manchester; and 
doubtless in consequence, all through that night I was 
myself personating the running footman, and perform- 
ing prodigies of activity such as never before were 

" It was a dream, and yet not all a dream." " Com- 
ing events" were " casting their shadows before." 


THE next evening we arrived in the Lake district, 
and the few succeeding days spent amidst its picturesque 
scenery the delightful excursions by land and on 
water the climbing of the majestic Skiddaw, dis- 
tracted my thoughts from all disquietudes. Sir Bulwer 
Lytton, in one of his novels, describes very graphically 
the rapidity with which a sovereign melts away when 
once it is changed into silver, how quickly the five 
shilling pieces dwindle into half-crowns, the half-crowns 
into shillings, and so on ; and if it be so with a whole, 
the case is of course doubly applicable with regard to a 
half-sovereign, and mine seemed peculiarly to possess 
the property of evanescence. 

But (he kindness and cordial manners of Mr. and 
Mrs. Harrowby had by degrees set me so much at my 


ease, that I felt that it would not cost me a very great 
effort to confide in them, and borrow the sum requisite 
for my coach fare back to Ashford. But I put off doing 
so till the last moment, when at the small roadside 

posting-house of E , where we had had an early 

dinner, and were about to part, I most unintentionally 
and unluckily overheard a conversation between the 
married pair. 

Mrs. Harrowby was praising me, saying that I 
improved vastly on acquaintance, and had been the 
greatest acquisition to their party, especially to Willie, 
who did nothing but lament the coming separation ; and 
then she consulted Mr. Harrowby as to whether they 
should offer to pay for my journey home. 

" Not for the world !" was Mr. Harrowby 's decided 
reply. " If it were almost any other lad in the world 
of the same age, I should insist on doing so, but it 
would never answer in this instance. Neither he nor 
his father would like it the Squire would, indeed, con- 
sider it an affront one of those very proud old north 
country families, you know ! And depend upon it," he 
added, as if to satisfy his wife's mind, " the lad's purse is 
Jieavier than ours" 

If these concluding words silenced Mrs. Harrowby, 
they completely tongue-tied me. The resolution I had 
formed, vanished away like morning dew, and it was in 
a kind of dizzy stupid bewilderment and with a languid 
smile I bade adieu to my friends, endeavouring to 
utter thanks and return Willie's frantic signals of fare- 
\vell from the rumble, then saw the carriage move off, 
leaving me standing on the door-step of the inn left 
behind with literally only the paltry sum of two shillings 
to cover the expenses of a long coach journey. 


I stood for some minutes gazing ~acantly after the 
departing vehicle, only by degrees awakening to a sense 
of the necessity of rousing myself to action. Almost 
involuntarily I drew my purse from my pocket, opened 
it, and surveyed its contents. There was nothing new 
to be seen there, only the two little silver coins, which 
by no liocus pocus could I convert into golden pieces ; 
and mathematically considered, to subtract therefrom 
would be easy enough, to add thereto there was the 
rub ! But I had brought myself into the scrape, and I 
determined to face the difficulty manfully. 

The coach which was to have picked me up would 
soon be due at the inn, so to avoid humiliatingly encoun- 
tering it under my abased circumstances, I strapped my 
light wallet across my shoulders, and told the landlord I 
would walk on. Yes, I thought, and so must I do even 
to the end. In these railway times, by a Government 
train, I might have managed the distance of sixteen 
miles to Chester, and still had a fourpenny piece remain- 
ing. Even that would not have helped me much ; but 
as it was, my legs, I felt, must be my sole mode of con- 
veyance from first to last, and my slender resources 
be kept to provide for the inner man, if I would not 
faint by the way. 

It was certainly rather an uncomfortable predica- 
ment in which to find myself suddenly placed, and it was 
no consolation whatever to reflect that I had entirely 
brought myself into it. Indeed, when I thought of my 
folly, my weakness throughout, I could have gnashed 
my teeth with irritation against myself; and when, 
having plodded along the hard turnpike road for a mile 
or so, I heard the coach approaching, with the cheerful 
sound of the jingling harness, the reverberating tread 


of the four liorses, fearing the coachman might stop to 
offer to take me up, I turned aside into a field, and con- 
cealed myself behind a hedge until it had passed, envy- 
ing, as it flew by, its freight of happy-looking passengers. 

But it was useless to waste time in fruitless regrets. 
The September afternoon was already somewhat ad- 
vanced, and, unknowing and unknown, it was desirable 
to enter Chester by daylight. So I pressed steadily on, 
only pausing to read the directions on the finger-posts, 
and count the figures on the mile-stones. 

I was within two miles of the town when I was 
overtaken by a light cart, whose driver, doubtless struck 
by my weary gait, stopped and offered me a lift, which 
I gladly accepted. From him I gained much useful 
information regarding my route for the next day. Evi- 
dently taking me for one of the numerous pedestrian 
travellers constantly met with in summer time returning 
from North Wales, he described to me the various cross 
roads and short cuts, by which certain distances might 
be lessened. He also dropped me at a small inn in the 
suburbs, where he said I might be accommodated for 
the night at a reasonable rate. But this did not prove 
a very satisfactory recommendation, for whatever might 
have been the merits of my landlady, assuredly the 
attribute of cleanliness could not be ranked amongst 
them, and 1 arose from the state bed in her best chamber 
rather the more exhausted than refreshed, in conse- 
quence of several fierce encounters with a herd of vil- 
lainous lodgers which I found already in possession of 
the couch when I entered it. Then the bill, though no 
doubt a mere song compared with the charges at first- 
rate hotels, seemed to me considerable, taking into 
account all the attendant circumstances, and, to my 


consternation, exceeded the whole of my funds. I felt 
staggered for a moment, but there is no such sharpener 
of mother wit tis necessity, and a bright idea struck me. 

In some of the Arabian Nights' tales, of which I used 
to be so fond, I remembered having read of travellers 
(who, however magnificent they were always repre- 
sented to be at home, appeared generally on the occasions 


of journeys to be as deficient in hard cash as myself), in 
return for hospitality received from bounteous strangers, 
taking from their fingers or breast some sparkling gem 
of untold worth, and presenting it to their host. I had 
no trinkets about me nothing of value, except my 
watch and chain, my father's gift some years before} 
I would have walked bare-footed from Chester to the 
Land's End rather than have parted with them. I have 
the watch now ; its springs are worn out, its ticking 
has ceased, even as the pulses of the beloved donor have 
long since been motionless, but I keep it still, garnered 
up amongst my most cherished relics. 

No ! I could not -offer "jewels rare " unto my " lady 
fair," but I rushed up-stairs, unclasped my wallet, took 
from it the shirt which Mrs. Jellicoe considered so valu- 
able and so beautiful, carried it down to the parlour, 
and bashfulness entirely giving way before the emer- 
gency of the case gracefully proffered the garment in 
lieu of base coin. 

My hostess demurred at first, seeming even some, 
what offended at the proposition, and regarded me with 
looks of suspicious doubt and displeasure ; but when, 
becoming impatient at her hesitation, I was about to 
withdraw my proposal and take it back, she clutched it 
with a tighter grasp, and said that though such a thing 
was quite out of her usual way of doing business, still 
she was willing to oblige, and so the affair was happily 
arranged. I parted with what I did not value, and she 
must have bee a well satisfied with her bargain, since 
she presented me on my departure, gratis, with what 
she called a "lunch," which though not choice in mate- 
rial or tempting in its arrangement, I deemed it would 
have been ungracious, if not unwise, to refuse. 



NOTWITHSTANDING the exertion I was to undergo, I could 
not resist lingering to lionize the eccentric old city of 
Chester. The houses are so quaint and singular, with 
their white plaster walls, divided with cross-beams of 
painted black wood, some of them marked out in tri- 
angles and octagons, like Chinese puzzles ; their high- 
pointed roofs and fantastically-shaped windows with 
small diamond panes, so very uncommon. Then, level 
with their second floors, high above the ground, are 
public footpaths along the principal streets, most of the 
shops being entered from these curious covered galleries, 
erected in olden times, when the town was invaded by 
an enemy, to enable the inhabitants to throw down 
stones and all kinds of missiles on the besiegers, whilst 
they themselves were safely defended from the weapons 
of their opponents. Chester, you know, was built by 
the Romans as their capital, and is fortified with a very 
strong stone wall, on the top of which is a walk leading 
all round the city ; and though I knew the distance to 
be two miles, I could not resist undertaking it, that I 
might look down from that height, on the panoramic 
view of the houses, castle, cathedral, and the bridge 
with its grand wide arch, spanning the Dee, just in that 
part of the river, on which King Edgar is said to have 
arrived, in his barge rowed by seven kings. In fact, 
instead of getting as far on my way as I could in the 
coolest hours of the morning, the sun was almost in the 
meridian when I quitted the town, having improvidently 
wasted more strength and time than I could afford, in 
exploring it. 


My object was to reach a small market-town on the 
borders of Derbyshire, through which I had often passed 
in various journeys from the south, and from whence, 
being well known to the coachman there, I could get on 
to Ashfield without further trouble the next day, by the 
Buxton coach, which went through our village. 

I scarcely knew how long a walk I had before me, 
but determined to follow as nearly as possible the direc- 
tions of my guide of the previous day; and being endowed 
with the organ of locality, did not apprehend going 
much out of the proper coarse. I rejoiced at every 
opportunity of turning off the dusty road into pleasant 
shady lanes and fresh green meadows. I was travelling 
in the land of cheeses, and though I did not find it 
flowing with cream, like Baron Munchausen's cheese 
island, the richness of the pastures and herds of beau- 
tiful sleek cows feeding in them, frequently reminded 
me where I was. 

For a few hours I trudged valiantly on, getting well 
over my ground, and rather enjoying the swiftly shifting 
scenes ; but gradually my energy began to flag (you 
know I told you I was never considered a very good 
walker), each succeeding mile became more tedious and 
toilsome, till at length I was obliged to throw myself 
down on a bank to rest. 

It was in a very quiet retired spot, beneath some 
spreading trees in a hedgerow, and as I lay there a 
feeling of loneliness and desertion stole over me. Soli- 
tude which I had once so desired had lost its charm. I 
was already longing for accustomed faces, familiar tones 
and voices. It seemed to me also a somewhat comical as 
well as an untoward fact, that I, the son of a man whose 
name and character were alone a passport in many places, 


should be thus on the tramp, wandering about like a 
common vagrant. But who had I to blame for this but 
myself? I felt I had no right to complain, and once 
more determined to make the best of a bad matter. 

Rousing myself with an effort, I sat up, and un- 
buckling my travelling- case, opened it, and brought 
forth the parting gift of my landlady ; but the sight of the 
rancid cheese cut with a dirty knife, the scraps of fat 
i .:eat hidden between bits of stale bread, and wrapped in 
a piece of well-thumbed newspaper, took from me all 
inclination to eat, though I had the prudence to return 
the distasteful-looking packet to my wallet, instead of 
chucking it over the hedge as I felt vastly inclined to 
do. However, nature must be supported, so, having 
i) used myself to continue my route, at the next village 
1 arrived at, I entered a small rural inn, and in its sanded 
>;ir-room obtained a rough but clean repast, which 
Mough I grudged even the small sum it cost me, 
mowed my strength for fresh exertions. 

That afternoon ! how often has it come back to me 

both, in my dreams and waking hours ; the scenes, the 

><>ts through which I threaded my way, the faces and 

/ures I caught sight of but for a moment, then lost to 

view for ever ; shaking old men and women, sunning 

e nisei ves at their cottage- doors, whistling labourers 

I'lging along, rosy noisy children, with begrimed faces 

and curly locks, playing merrily about ; the curious 

loidoscope glimpses of fields, meadows, hills and 

earns, trees and people, that flitted before me as I 

!::ped on, myself as transient an apparition, neither 

v<lirig nor speaking to any one. Yes, once I was 

rtaken by a man more tired and footsore than myself, 

poor discharged soldier, walking from Plymouth to a 


village beyond York, to rejoin his family, whom he had 
not beheld for twelve years. He was in bad health, and 
only the thoughts of this longed-for reunion could have 
enabled him to bear up against the fatigue he was 
undergoing. We went a mile or two on our way 
together, he beguiling the time by giving me accounts 
of the engagements he had been in, in the Peninsular 
War, under the great general Lord Wellington". : When 
we parted at a cross road, he willingly accepted the 

packet of " lunch " from my wallet, and the few pence 1 
had taken in exchange for the shilling I had put down 
at the village inn for my own refreshment. Gladly 
would I have given him more. Poor fellow, I have often 
wondered how he found his wife and children ! 

As I again went solitarily on, I frequently thought 
of the running footman of Haddon Hall, and while 
envying his amazing agility, it struck me that if I had 
accustomed myself more to active pursuits, been in 


better training for walking, I might have got on far more 
comfortably. I was beginning to feel very weary and 
impatient when the shades of evening gathered round 
and found me still some miles from my appointed goal. 
Oh for the seven-leagued boots Hop-o'-my-Thumb ab- 
stracted from the Ogre's palace ! I would even have 
accepted the spring leg of the flying German burgo- 
master, trusting to have been able to manage its mecha- 
nism more successfully than he did. Anything to have 
sent me skimming over the remaining intervening space. 

I tried every style of walking fast short steps, slow 
long steps, swinging my arms, balancing my body, once 
I even took off my shoes and stockings, Irish fashion ; 
this last plan did not answer at all, and what relief 
indeed could be afforded to a tired-out frame but rest, 
which I could not then have? My spirits had been 
hitherto principally upheld by the bright cheery weather, 
and I had congratulated myself on the overcoat, which 
had defended me from many a sharp shower at the 
Lakes, having been accidentally carried off in Mr. Har- 
rowby's carriage, thereby disembarrassing me from its 
weight. But just after sunset the wind got up, lowering 
clouds floated across the sky, and when darkness was 
beginning to overspread the earth, there came a few 
preliminary drops pattering on my upraised face, fol- 
lowed by a hard pelting down-pour, which completely 
drenched me before I could reach any place of shelter. 

I was then indeed in a miserable plight, wet to the 
skin, and my shoes filled with water. N"o wonder I felt 
no heart to proceed farther, but determined to seek a 
refuge for the night at the first decent cottage I should 
come to. There was apparently, however, no village 
near at hand, no human habitation of any kind, so OD 


and on I was forced to go, shivering and dripping, and 
was arriving at the comfortless conclusion that i must. 
keep to my first intention of proceeding to D - before 
I could hope for either rest or a dry skin, when sud- 
denly a light glimmered on a height at some distance 
before me. 

I welcomed the sight of the little pale twinkling flame, 
which seemed to have blazed forth on purpose to guide 
me on my desolate way, and which if it did not prove to be 
one of those castle palaces, in which benighted travellers, 
in fairy tales, were wont to be received and feasted in 
splendour, might at least bring me within cover of the 
storm and tempest. Therefore, following its tiny spark, I 
ascended the long hill on the top of which it gleamed, 
and at length found myself approaching close to it, and 
standing beside a white painted gate. I paused for a 
moment, then passing through it amidst the loud bark* 
ing of dogs, proceeded about a hundred yards further, 
which brought me to a long low building with a pro- 
jecting porch, on the door of which I knocked. 

It was cautiously opened by some one, who, but im- 
perfectly discerning me in the dim shadowy light, ex- 
claimed in somewhat uncouth accents and true Cheshire 
dialect, " Is it a lie or a who ?" and on my attempting 
to state my circumstances, cut me short with, " Maybe 
I'll go call missus." 

I was then standing within the porch, beyond which 
I could descry a stone passage, and facing where I stood 
a door, which the servant girl opened, displaying for 
a moment a room within. Presently she returned, carry- 
ing a candle and accompanied by her " missus," whose 
very appearance was siLoicieut to impart encouragement 
and comfort. 



SUCH a pleasant-looking face and comely deportment 
had Mrs. Plumbtree, the wife of the Cheshire farmer, 
to whose dwelling I had accidentally strayed, and to 
whom I attempted to offer explanations concerning my 
unlooked-for appearance. 

My account must have been rather a halting one, 
for she scanned me very searchingly with her bright 
black eyes, and when I paused, said in a serious tone, 
" I hope it is the truth you are telling me, young 
man, but it seems a queer thing for a lad like you to be 
roving about the country so late instead of being safe at 
woam* But," she continued, hospitality and kindness 
almost immediately overcoming her doubts and scruples^ 
" no one in trouble has ever yet been turned from these 
doors ; and you look terribly cold, and doubtless must 
be wetcJiered^- ; so come in, lad, come in," and she threw 
open again the door in the passage, admitting, me into 
an atmosphere of light and warmth, and into a scene of 
cheerfulness and comfort such as I cannot do justice to 
by any description. It was a large farm-house kitchen, 
into which I found myself suddenly transported from the 
outer damp and darkness, but evidently never used for 
cooking purposes. The range of pewter utensils on the 
long oaken dresser shone like silver by the light of the 
logs of wood, blazing and crackling in the wide open fire- 
place. To the heavy oak beams traversing the ceiling, 
hung hams and bacon in sufficient quantity, one would 
have thought, to supply a whole generation ; while in 
the centre of the room was a well-covered suppor table 

* At borne Wet shod. 


at wliicli sat the portly farmer and a large party of 
young people, most of them the sons and daughters of 
the house, and as charming specimens of the rural class 
as could possibly be seen the sons tall, strong, and 
broad set, the girls with their mother's sparkling dark 
eyes and glowing complexions, and all the very pictures 
of good humour. There were also some visitor cousins, 
but who did not take my fancy so much ; two demure 
and somewhat affected damsels, and their brother, a very 
town-bred looking youth, who evidently did not think 
slightly of himself. 

All glanced towards the door as Mrs. Plumbtree 
ushered in her dripping, half-drowned companion, and 
the farmer, I thought, did not look over-pleased at the 
intrusion ; but his wife passed round to where he sat, 
and bending down, whispered a few words in his ear 
which seemed to satisfy him, for he nodded assentingly, 
and motioned to me to approach the fire. 

But it was impossible to gain any warmth whilst 
remaining in such utterly soaked garments, and on Mrs. 
Plumbtree learning that my wallet contained under- 
clothing, she called a little chubby-faced boy out of the 
group, and bid him take me up-stairs, that I might make 
myself more comfortable. 

It was indeed a relief to be disencumbered of the 
saturated cloth garments, to drag my feet out of shoes 
shrunken with moisture, to peel off the shirt that stuck 
to my body like a skin ; and my little valet fetched me 
from down-stairs a beaker of hot water with which I 
performed most comfortable ablutions ; so that when I 
returned to the kitchen, attired in an evening suit (the 
only other one I had with me), so great was the altera- 
tion in my appearance, that I heard smothered ex- 


clamations of surprise, and felt convinced I was 
raised considerably in the estimation of the three 
cousins. Space was instantly made for me between the 
two young town damsels, but I preferred seating myself 
beside a little black-eyed maiden of about nine years 
old, the youngest and pet child of the family, who 
pressed my hand within her small plump sunburnt palm, 
and invited me to eat. 

Most of the party had finished their repast by this 
time; the farmer was in a large arm-chair near the 
hearth, the girls were assisting the maid to clear away, 
whilst Mrs. Plumbtree was bustling about very actively. 
She, however, paused in her occupation to help me 
to the fare the table provided, saying, " You must 
indeed be welly clemmed* so lose no time, for it is nigh 

The principal dish is still a favourite one in the 
north, I believe, and retains the name my hostess 
then gave it, " Beans and Chance." In poor and 
frugal houses it consists of a quantity of broad beans, 
the older and tougher the better it would almost seem, 
in which is smothered small lumps of bacon, the amount 
of beans preponderating so vastly, that it is a great 
" chance" when a bit of meat falls to the lot of the 
person served. But at such a liberal, well-ordered 
buard as Mrs. Plumbtree's there was no " chance" in 
the matter, but the pleasant certainty of receiving with 
each portion of fresh tender vegetables a substantial 
slice of relishable broiled ham. Be assured I did ample 
justice to the repast. And then I found that during my 
absence up-stairs the perplexing subject as to how I was 
to be accommodated for the night, had been anxiously 



discussed ; the only spare bed- room being occupied by 
the nieces, while the nephew shared the chamber of the 
two eldest sons. The farmer had suggested that I 
should repose by the fire in his capacious chair, in which 
he could take the snuggest naps after a long day's 
work ; but compassionate Mrs. Plumb tree had replied, 
that young people could not so easily sleep in a sedentary 
posture, they required to stretch their limbs full length 
in order to obtain refreshment from slumber, and she 
had hit upon another expedient. She had a clean little 
chaff bed which she could lay down on the floor of the 
cheese-room, on which she felt sure I could rest quite 
comfortably, with a good thick winter blanket to cover 
me. She was sorry she had nothing else to offer, but 
perhaps that would be better than turning out again 
that rainy night. 

I gratefully accepted her proposal. All I wanted 
was some place to lie down in. I cared not where 
it was, and would infinitely prefer being alone ; and 
after supping, such an uncontrollable drowsiness stole 
over me, that I longed for the moment when I should be 
conducted to my novel bed-chamber. 

One by one the young people dropped off, and at 
last Mrs. Plumbtree aroused her husband with a pood 
shaking ; then approaching the clock, which in its solid 
oaken case stood in a corner of the kitchen, most 
deliberately advanced the minute hand. On observing 
me comparing my watch with its time, she said, " I 
always put on the clock half an hour when I want to be 
cheated into earlier rising than usual, and have never 
yet found the trick fail me. We must be all up by five 
o'clock, and ready to welcome the minister's daughters, 
who are coming to take a lesson in cheese-making." 


I thought it strange that such a transparent act of 
self-deception should answer its purpose so well, but 
was too stupified by sleepiness, to be able to make any 
remark either about the clock or the expected visitors, 
and passively followed her from the room. We first 
ascended by a wide handsome staircase with polished 
carved oak balusters, till haying arrived on the upper 
landing-place, Mrs. Plumbtree turned off into a narrow 
passage, and led the way up a steep spiral flight, im- 
mediately at the top of which was a door, which she 
threw open, introducing me into my dormitory a long 
room in the roof, with low rafters, the floor of which, 
excepting just at one end, was covered with goodly sam- 
ples of the chief productions of the country. At the other 
extremity was my " shake-down," on which, after Mrs. 
Plumb tree's departure, I immediately threw myself down, 
having merely removed my outer garments. The flicker- 
ing flame of the bit of rushlight, by which my hostess 
had lighted me up-stairs, produced a curious effect glim- 
mering feebly upon my quaint chamber and its contents 
and falling asleep while endeavouring to count the rows 
of circling cheeses, and mentally bisecting them, no 
wonder that afterwards in my dreams, I was trying to 
perform a difficult calculation, I fancied to have found 
in Colenso, relative to the number of mites computed to 
be bred in a certain time, in so many Cheshire cheeses of 
various sizes and ages, or that when I suddenly started 
up, disturbed by the fizzing, spluttering noise of the 
expiring rushlight, and saw the full moon gleaming 
through a little hoop-hole of a window upon them, I 
exclaimed in the words of the poet, " Round as a Cheshire 
cheese !" 

But excepting a slight smell of curds, I had nothing 


to complain of in my quarters. My couch was easy, and 
the scrupulous cleanliness both of it and the boards on 
which it rested, was luxury to me after my lodging of 
the night before. After the rushlight went out, I mast 
have slept long and soundly, for when next I awoke, 
sunbeams were peeping into the chamber, and various 
signs and sounds were telling that all nature was awake, 
again, and rejoicing in the brightness of the morning. 


I HAD arisen, and was peering through the small 
diamond panes of the small window, when merry voices 
and ringing laughter greeted my ears, and presently I 
beheld approaching the house, two young ladies of about 
the same height, apparently thirteen or fourteen years 
old, very simply dressed, both alike, and with light hair, 
arranged in that prettiest of all fashions, not the wrinkly 
crinkly manes of the present day, but long glossy ring- 
lets floating negligently over their necks and shoulders, 
beneath broad straw hats and blue ribbons. A staid 
middle-aged person accompanied them. 

These, then, must be the visitors Mrs. Plumbtree 
had mentioned, and finding from my watch that it was 
just six, I knew that if the faithful clock had not at last 
played her false, my hostess and her family must already 
have been " a-gate"* a full hour and a half, and that I 
must make haste if I, too, wished to be initiated in the 
mysteries of cheese-making. Some one, probably my 
little valet, must have already been in my room, for the 

* Busy at work. 


clothes I had arrived in the clay before, were lying on 
the foot of my bed, dried, and looking as well as could 
be expected after what they had undergone. 

It is generally observed that there is an epoch in the 
life of almost every boy, when neatness and propriety of 
dress and person are but slightingly regarded, when 
brushes and even soap are at a discount, and rough 
heads and dog-eared shirt collars are the order of the 
day ; but, take comfort, ye parents and friends ; in due 
season, as the grub changes into the butterfly, so the 
time comes, when mighty metamorphosis ! the same 
boy takes such pride in his personal appearance, such an 
exquisite particularity comes over " the spirit of his 
dream," that he devotes more time in one morning to 
his toilette, than he has formerly done to it in a whole 
week, comes down to breakfast redolent with scented 
soap and perfumed oils, and worries himself for the 
whole morning, if the set of his tie is wrong, or a lock 
of hair refuses to lie in proper form on his forehead. 
And this new phase continues, until tempered and modi- 
fied by a further increase of sense and discretion. 

I need not say that I was in the latter transition 
state, and you can therefore imagine my perplexity and 
vexation, when I discovered that my room contained no 
kind of furniture whatever, except the temporary bed- 
ding and the cheeses ; not a chair, a looking-glass, or a 
washing-stand. It truly was the greatest punishment 
my folly had brought upon me, having to appear before 
those pretty little ladies as I was compelled to do ; there 
was no help for it, and not liking to miss the cheese- 
making lesson, I at length descended the steep staircase 
which I found continued down to the bottom of the 
house, and at the base of which were the back premises, 


in which I opportunely spied a convenient pump, at 
which I thoroughly washed my hands and face, to my 
great refreshment, but to the utter sacrifice of all the 
remaining starch in my shirt collar. 

I found Mrs. Plumbtree, with her daughters and 
guests, assembled in a large back kitchen nearly sur- 
rounded by cheese presses made of huge blocks of stone. 
She was half jokingly scolding her visitors for being, 
what she called, so late in arriving. 

"It does not so much matter now," she argued; 
" but these hours would never do in May or June, when 
I have the milk of six-and-thirty cows standing waiting ; 
as it is, there is no time to lose." 

Meanwhile, the young ladies having tucked up their 
sleeves to the elbows, were engaged in putting on 
wide, coarse checked aprons, belonging to the farmer's 
daughters, which, covering them from their chins to 
their feet, provoked the same merry laughter at each 
other's appearance which I had heard before, but which 
was instantly checked by their governess, who saw that 
Mrs. Plumbtree considered it no time for laughter, and 
was hastening to set every one to work, to cut up the 
curd, which stood ready in an enormous tub, the rennet 
or whey having been already added to it. 

This was first done with a gigantic-looking knife, 
but presently Mrs. Plumbtree asked for the " dairy- 
maid," when, instead of the servant girl appearing, as I 
had expected, an instrument bearing that name was 
handed to her, with which she broke the curd into 
smaller pieces, thereby dividing it from the whey, which 
last was ladled out of the tub with bowls. Next the 
card was cut into the shape of bricks, taken out of the 
tub, and placed in a wooden trough ; then the curd, 


now separated from the whey, was still further broken, 
mixed with salt, and weights were placed on it; and 
having been once more broken and salted, and the 
colouring added, it was taken out of the trough, put in 
a cloth, then into a vat, and behold the grand work 
was accomplished the Cheshire cheese was made. 

Before placing it finally under a heavy press, one of 
the young visitors made an impression on its ductile 
surface with a penny, to distinguish it from all other 
cheeses, and obtained Mrs. Plumbtree's promise that when 
it was fit for eating, a good large slice from it should 
be sent to the Rectory. It was to remain under the 
press for four days, and then be carried up-stairs, and 
placed on the floor of the cheese-loft, with my com- 
panions of the night before ; and every day either the 
farmer's wife or her daughters would have to ascend 
the spiral staircase to turn it over with the rest no 
slight effort of strength, I can tell you. 

I stood watching the process, thinking what a 
pleasant scene was afforded by the cheerful, pretty 
young dairymaids, so intent on their occupation, and 
by my hostess, who presided over them with the digni- 
fied authority of a queen bee directing her busy hive. 
Their labour over, a plate of brown bread and butter 
was handed round, and on the sisters remarking on the 
richness of the butter, Mrs. Plumbtree jocosely accused 
her eldest daughter of having slily robbed the cheese- 
tub, their butter being usually intended to be made 
only of the whey, all the cream being reserved for 

"But you must know," she said, "that Dolly is 
going soon to be married, and she, as my head dairy- 
maid, gets half the butter-money of this season to buy 


lier fine wedding togery ; so, of course, the cunning 
wench manages to turn it out as good as it well 
can be." 

Dolly took the impeachment in perfectly good part, 
smiling and blushing, and then explained to the guests 
that the copper at one end of the kitchen was the 
vessel in which the whey was boiled, and that when 
it was scalding hot, sour butter-milk was poured in 
upon it, which caused the " fleetings" as she called 
the scum to rise to the top ; adding that the children 
and farm servants had it for their supper, and found it 
very good. She fetched some of it for the visitors to 
taste ; but it was evident from their countenances, as 
they cautiously tried a small portion, that they found it 
far less palatable than Dolly's excellent butter. 

The clergyman's daughters did not observe my pre- 
sence till just when they were about to quit the kitchen ; 
then seeing I was a stranger, one of them turned to 
Mrs. Plumbtree, and with apparent curiosity inquired, 
in low-toned accents, who I was. It pained me to per- 
ceive, by my hostess's grave shake of her bead when 
she answered them, that, in spite of her hospitality and 
kindness, she still regarded me somewhat doubtingly. 
Nevertheless, whatever she may have said, when they 
passed by me the little girls honoured me with the same 
polite, modest curtsey they had accorded to her, which 
quite soothed my ruffled feelings ; such a potent charm 
is there in civility, which truly, as the old adage says, 
"costs nothing, and buys everything." 

How I wish that curtseys were not gone out of 
fashion, that that graceful compliment, which was once 
an universal custom, was not now reserved only fcr 
queens; princes, and princesses! 



I WAS standing outside tlie porch on the gi-ass plat, 
which, having been newly mowed, gave forth a pleasant 
fragrance, when I was summoned by little Maggie 
to breakfast, and went hand in hand with my small 
conductress into the front kitchen. My shy disposition 
was then rather severely tried, the large party gathered 
round the table, appearing far more formidable in broac? 
daylight, than it had done by the subdued candlelight 
the evening before ; and I could not help fancying all 
the time, that the eyes of the town cousins were fixed 
on my drooping cravat and altogether badly " got up" 
appearance. I was thankful to be at last released from 
this thraldom, and to accompany the little boy, who 
had offered to show me about the place before my 

Maggie also insisted on being of the party ; and 
following my young guides, I soon entered upon the 
animated scene presented by the amply-filled farmyard. 
Such a chorus of noises greeted us the cackling of 
geese, gobbling of turkeys, crowing of cocks, barking of 
dogs, lowing of cows, and grunting of pigs such a 
crowd of feathered creatures rushed to meet and welcome 
us. Maggie was quite in her element then, with pride 
and delight showing off all the wonders of the place ; 
and after stroking the broad-backed cows, launching 
a brood of yellow goslings on a little green pool, 
and squeezing herself into sundry inconceivably small 
holes and crannies in quest of eggs all for ray edifi- 
cation she ended by climbing over a low wall, and 
returning with a squeaking sucking-pig in her arms, 


much to her brother Jack's shame and displeasure, 
who remarked, " Maggie, you shall go home if you are 
so lungeous;"* but Maggie only pressed the struggling, 
kicking, scratching little animal more fondly to her 
bosom, exclaiming, " Whist ye, my beauty !" 

I was next taken into the well-stocked kitchen 
garden, redolent of sweet marjoram and thyme, and 
from its centre turfed walk, bordered with beds of the 
gayest autumn flowers, hollyhocks, sunflowers, China- 
asters, and .Michaelmas-daisies, I took a survey of the 
exterior of the farm-house. It was a long, rambling 
building, standing on the topmost ridge of a gradually- 
rising eminence, overlooking a rich valley, and com- 
manding a lovely and extensive view, evidently an 
erection of ancient date ; its irregular additions, its 
gable ends and substantial red-brick coping in short, 
the whole style of the habitation, as well as the fine 
pollard oaks near it, and the plainly marked out 
bowling-green, used by Mrs. Plumbtree for a drying- 
ground, denoting that it had formerly been a mansion 
of importance ; and, in fact, Jack told me it went by 
the name of the Legh Farm, and pointed out the crest 
of that old Cheshire family on the entrance porch, and 
the letter "L" above it, formed by a band of iron, in- 
serted in the wall. 

Jack next drew my attention to a little copse beyond 
the garden, giving me a lively account of the wonder- 
fully successful " "brids'-nasing" by which term I dis- 
covered that he meant " birds'-nesting" he had had 
there the last spring ; and when I ventured an opinion 
as to that pursuit being rather a barbarous one, his eyes 
twinkled vengefully as he spoke of the havoc the 




"Irids^ had made amongst his mother's favourite white- 
heart cherries the preceding summer, and expressed his 
thorough satisfaction at the idea of the thievish chaf- 
finches and tomtits being pretty well " toiped off"* this 
year. , 

But time was speeding on, and, much as I should have 
liked it, I could not linger any longer with my newly- 
made friends, so I re-entered the house and ascended to 
my bed-chamber to fetch my wallet. It was with ad- 
ditional interest I then inspected the loft and its con- 
tents ; bright sun rays were streaming into it, quite 
gilding some of the circumfering cheeses, and already 
giving them the rich mellow look they, were expected to 
attain when they should arrive at due maturity. 

When I went down- stairs to bid adieu to the family, 
the farmer and his elder sons had gone about their daily 
avocations, the daughters were engaged in various 
household employments, the cousins seated, with the 
luxurious ease and indulgence of visitors, at their tam- 
bour frames in the bow window of the parlour; 
but I found Mrs. Plumbtree in her clean, cool larder 
putting in paper some newly-cut ham sandwiches and a 
small home-made cake. She accompanied me into the 
porch, and as she took leave of me, presenting me with 
the packet truly a contrast to my luncheon of the day 
before she added a few words of earnest exhortation, 
that I would go straight back to my friends, and not 
vex them again by straying from home. 

It quite grieved me to leave this kind-hearted woman 
with such an unfavourable impression of my proceedings, 
but how could I explain to her the really ridiculous 
cause of all my difficulties ? I could only cordially thank 

* Killed or dead. 


Her, promising to follow her advice ; and accepting the 
offer of her little son to show me my way across the 
fields into the high road, I soon lost sight of that pleasant 
rural home, which has often come back to my remem- 
brance with a refreshing influence in very different scenes, 
far away from dear old England. I knew it would have 
been an insult, as well as a mere mockery, to have offered 
a paltry shilling by way of any remuneration for my so 
freely-given lodging ; but my young companion men- 
tioning, as we were passing through the fields, what a 
capital place it was on that high ground for kite flying, 
and that a new kite was just then the greatest object of 
his wishes, I placed my last remaining coin in his hand, 
and when I parted from him, his eyes were sparkling 
with delight, his face radiant with gratitude. 

I reached D , sought out the coachman I liave 

before mentioned, who perfectly remembered me, said 
what excellent customers my family had been to nim for 
many generations past, that he should feel proud to drive 
the present Squire Liddell's son, and accordingly at the 
appointed hour, I mounted the box-seat of the "High- 
flyer," and in due course of time was set down in 
the quiet shady lane beside the gate of Ashfield Cot- 
tage. On my telling my Jehu that I would meet 
him at that spot at the same hour on the next 
day but one, and pay him then, as he touched his 
hat in respectful acquiescence, I was again humbled by 
seeing him give a knowing wink at the guard, and hear- 
ing him mutter, " Hallo, Jem, I smells a rat there ; the 
young gem'man has been out on a bit of a lark ; but he 
may trust to me I'll keep it all snug and tight, and be 
sure you does the same." 

As I walked up the approach, all around the cottage 


looked so exactly as it had. done on the morning I had 
left it, that I could scarcely fancy I had been eight days 
absent from it, had beheld so many new scenes, and 
undergone so much in mind and body. 

Mrs. Jellicoe met me at the door, informed me that 
Mr. Marshall, West, and Lacy, would not be at home 
till the morrow, remarked that I looked " wearied," and 
discovering at a glance that my clothes had had a soak- 
ing, insisted that I must have caught cold ; and after 
giving me a sumptuous repast, ordered me a warm bath 
before going to bed, which was by no means unaccept- 
able ; and if ever I was ready to extol the excellent 
appointments of my good tutor's house, it was when I 
found myself comfortably tucked in for the night in my 
snug little room. 

Mr. Marshall and the boys returned the following 
afternoon ; the day after, I drew upon my tutor for a 
remittance, and felt quite a tide of enthusiastic loyalty 
rush into my heart as I gazed at the short, round, profiled 
face of good King George, with his neatly-tied pigtail, 
depicted on the bright golden coins handed over to me. 
My coach fare was duly paid, with a liberal gratuity to 
both coachman and guard, and as I kept the particulars 
of " my longest walk' ' a close secret, there was nothing 
to remind me of it, but dear, tiresome Mrs. Jellicoe, who 
would on every opportunity call me to account for my 
missing " dress shirt," as she called it. 

At first I allowed her to suppose that it had been 
carried away in company with my great-coat, in Mr. 
Harrowby's carriage ; but when the coat was sent back 
without the garment of fine linen, she gave me no peace, 
till at length one day in desperation,! said very solemnly, 
" Mrs. Jellicoe, you must make up your mind never to 


behold it again ; you, and I, and that shir* have pai'tc-.'l 
company for ever." 

And then I ran away laughing, whilst she stood 
shaking her head reproachfully, uttering the usual bur- 
den of her complaint, " Such lovely cambric frilling ! 
dearie me, to think of the new half-dozen being broken 
into already !" and this time she sighed and added to 
her lament " After all, I fear you are no better than the 
rest of 'em." 


MY college career, I may say, was a successful one, and 
at the Commemoration, held with more than ordinary 

splendour in the year eighteen hundred and , the 

prize for the English poem was awarded to me. The 
Sheldonian theatre was crowded from top to bottom, 
the area or pit with the graduates, while on a stage in 
the middle of the building, were the Chancellor, the proc- 
tors, the noblemen, and the most distinguished visitors, 
all in their gorgeous full dresses of state. I had mounted 
the rostrum, and was only waiting for the noisy burst of 
applause with which I was greeted, to cease, to recite my 
verses, when I accidentally glanced at the ladies' gal- 
lery, filled to overflowing with gay dresses and bonnets, 
and from amidst the sea of faces, my eyes immediately 
singled out two very fair ones, those of some girls, 
evidently sisters, seated beside a clerical-looking gentle- 
man, and who in spite of time and place, and the differ- 
ence of attire, I at once recognized as the ci-devant little 
cheese-makers Mrs. Plumbtree's visitors. 

Yes ! I knew them directly, but I am afraid they had 
not tne slightest recollection of me never for a moment 


dreamt of the triumphant orator, the honoured hero of 
that hour, who stood before them so prominently in the 
beantiful Oxford theatre, being the same as the poor, 
depressed, shabby-looking lad, they had, in the bene- 
volence of their hearts, so courteously noticed on leaving 
the kitchen of the Legh Farm-house. I saw them quit 
the gallery amidst the throng, then lost sight of them 
for aye ! It was but one of those strange chance meet- 
ings which sometimes happen on this world's stage. 

Many years have passed away since the occurrences 
I have related to you years spent by me, for the most 
part, in sultry Eastern climes, in which a whiff from an 
English hay-field, or a sprig plucked from the village 
May hawthorn, would be deemed ten thousandtimes more 
precious, than every Asiatic spice, or the most splendid, 
stately tropical plant, and where that pleasant scene, a 
farm, with all its genuine British associations, must be 
numbered amongst lost enjoyments. My kind, hospitable 
Mrs.Plumbtree and her husband, must be resting beneath 
the sod in the little church-yard with the long grass, 
hard by their once busy home ; their blooming daughters, 
if living, are now old women with wrinkled brows and 
faded faces ; the bright jet eyes of Jack and Maggie 
must be dimmed by time and care, which more or less 
comes to all ; while the pretty young ladies from tho 
Rectory are perhaps grandmothers, their beautiful shining 
hair as liberally streaked with grey as my own; still I 
have always retained a vivid recollection of my night in 
the cheese-room of the Legh Farm. 

And it is only right that so it should be. Time flies ! 
fugit irrevocabile tempus ! as I used to write it at Ashfield 
Cottage ; but though time, and change of scene, and the 
force of circumstances, may obliterate manv event?, the 


remembrance of kindnesses should live freshly in the 
heart for ever, and I have never forgotten the timely 
shelter given me in my need, on that rainy, far off, by- 
gone September evening. 

And now, as every tale, however simple, should 
" point a moral," I hope, Readers, you may have gleaned 
from the story of " My Longest Walk" how much 
trouble and annoyance a person may bring upon himself, 
by not speaking out boldly and decidedly at the proper 
time, and in the proper place; and that resolution and 
moral courage are not alone to be reserved for great 
achievements and heroic deeds, but must be put into 
practice even in the minor transactions of every-day life, 




IN one of the quietest and 
most respectable outskirts 

of Hackney, where the ends of streets stretch out into the 
country, and one gets out of London noise and smoke, 
there stood in my youth a pretty cottage, with a small 
garden in front and a larger one in the rear, a grape- 
vine trained along its walls and almost up to its 
chimneys, a large sycamore tree sheltering it from the 
north-east winds, and green fields beyond its garden, 
from which it was called Meadow Cottage. The family 
who lived there were called the Foresters. There was a 
father, three boys, an honest, kindly old woman who 
did all the housekeeping, but no mother, for she had 
died four years before the time of my story, when her 
youngest boy was a baby. The Foresters were not rich, 


but very comfortable. The father was manager in the 
warehouse of a wealthy firm of fur importers in the 
neighbourhood of the London Docks, and had a respect- 
able income. His three boys, Joseph, Henry, and Her- 
bert, were getting their education, the two eldest at 
Doctor Ashford's school, one of the best in the neigh- 
bourhood, and the youngest at Miss Green's seminary, 
for little girls and boys under seven. His housekeeper, 
commonly called Old Catherine, had come with him and 
his wife to Meadow Cottage, and continued in the ser- 
vice ever since. Nobody could exactly say how old she 
was ; Catherine kept that a solemn secret, and was yet 
a stranger to all her neighbours. Her face, though 
brown and wrinkled, had a good-tempered, honest look ; 
her tall figure, though stooping with years, was yet 
strong and active. The cloth cap trimmed with fur, 
and allowing no hair to be seen, and the numerous 
petticoats, all of bright colours, and one shorter than the 
other, which were her constant attire, made Catherine 
rather a curiosity to the people about. She had been 
born in Archangel, her father was an English sailor, her 
mother a Russian peasant, and Catherine had lived till 
middle age in her native northern town, being for many 
years a housekeeper in the English factory there, till 
she came over with one of its managers to hold the 
same office in his fur warehouse, which happened to be 
the very one where Mr. Foreater was employed. Thus 
they got acquainted, and the old woman getting tired 
of keeping the great warehouse, which was left so 
lonely and locked up at night, took service with him 
when he got married, and continued to be his house- 
keeper when Mrs. Forester was gone. A faithful house- 
keeper Catherine was, and rather like a relative to the 


family with whom she had lived so long. Sincerely 
attached to Mr. Forester, in whom she had found a kind 
and considerate master, and still more attached to his 
boys, who had grown up under her care, and seemed 
like her own children. 

The young Foresters were good boys, though they 
had lost their mother so early. Their names were 
Joseph, Henry, and Herbert. There were four years 
between each of their ages, for two little sisters had 
gone to the churchyard before their mother ; so Joseph 
was almost thirteen, Henry was almost nine, and Her- 
bert little Herby, as they called him was almost five 
at the time of my story. They were all handsome, 
brown-haired boys, with fair open faces, strong frames, 
and active feet. It was their father's comfort that they 
would be able to take their own part in the world and 
willing to keep out of its evils. Of that he was sure, as 
regarded the three, but Joseph was his particular trust, 
being the steadiest and most sensible, as became an 
eldest brother ; and Herbert and Henry trusted in him 
too, were guided by his advice, got out of scrapes by his 
wisdom, and comforted in all their troubles by his 
brotherly kindness. 

Kind and loving were the motherless boys to one 
another, and happy was the little family as those that dwell 
together in unity. Every evening found them gathered 
in the cottage parlour, which Catherine kept so neat and 
comfortable. Mr. Forester came home from his ware- 
house, Joseph and Henry came home from Dr. Ashford's, 
stopping by the way to fetch little Herby home from 
Miss Green's. The father heard all his boys had to tell 
of news, adventures, or it might be troubles ; gave then 
his advice or consolation, if that were needed ; told them 


whatever he had seen or heard that might interest them; 
helped them with their lessons ; played with them some- 
times ; heard them read by turns in some of his own 
books while he sat resting himself by the fire, and old 
Catherine worked at the other side and listened. She 
had never learned to read, yet Catherine spoke and 
understood English well, and having travelled so far, 
had a good deal of knowledge for her station. These 
were their winter ways, but in the fine evenings of 
spring and summer, they used to take hours of working 
in the garden, which their own hands kept the neatest 
and fullest of flowers in all the neighbourhood. When 
there was no garden work to do, they took long walks 
into the country, where Mr. Forester told them what 
he knew of the wild plants and flowers. Though a man of 
business, he studied many things besides, and had a par- 
ticular fancy for botanizing ; and in the long, warm twi- 
lights, they used to sit in the summer-house, have a deal 
of talk, and sometimes their supper there, and sing the 
Evening Hymn together before they went in to bed. 

The Foresters had little company, because they did 
not feel the want of it. They had very few relations, 
and those they had were very distant, living in the 
!North of England, and holding little correspondence 
with them. So their summers and winters passed, as I 
have said, till the time of my story, when as the spring 
was coming in and there was a deal to do in the garden, 
the boys could fcot help perceiving that, though Mr. 
Forester worked and talked with them as usual, there 
was some sad thought or trouble in his mind of which 
he did not care to speak. 

Day after day it grew upon him ; he took to looking 
sadly on them all^ and asking them would they miss him 


much if lie went away. He said so one warm evening 
when they sat down in the summer-house for the first 
time in that year, and Joseph, after thinking a minute or 
two, said, " Father, dear, what makes you ask that ? you 
know we would, and you know you are not going away." 
" Indeed I am, my boy," said Mr. Forester, evidently 
taking courage to tell it. "I am going (and must go 
about Midsummer) far away to Archangel, to take charge 
of Mr. Benson's concerns in the English factory there. 
You see, Joseph," and he laid his hand on his thought- 
ful boy's shoulder, " Mr. Benson, in whose employment 
I have been these twenty years, is an old man now, too 
old to go abroad to such a climate, though he managed 
the firm's business in Archangel, I don't know how 
long, and brought Catherine with him to London, when 
he succeeded his uncle as chief of the house. The 
gentleman who was his agent in the factory, died about 
a month ago, and as soon as the intelligence reached 
him, Mr. Benson came to me, told me it was very good 
of him I was the only person he could think of trust- 
ing with such an important charge ; he was pleased to- 
say as a reward for my faithful services, because the 
ngent has a right to trade in furs on his own account, 
and gets all the advantages of a partner in the firm. It 
would make me rich and able to provide well for my boys 
in some years, Joseph that is a weighty consideration ; 
besides, I cannot refuse Mr. Benson, as he knows of 
nobody else he would employ in my stead, so I must go, 
and send you all to a boarding-school, for it would not 
be safe to leave you here without me, and my relations 
in the north would not be fit guardians for you. I must 
send you to school, let the cottage, and find a place for 


"Father, dear, couldn't yon takens with yon?" cried 
all the boys in a breath ; the idea of parting from him 
and being sent to live among strangers "was more than 
they could bear, and Herbert began to cry. 

" My children, it is far away, and a terrible climate ; 
the winters there are eight months in the year, no ships 
can come all that time over the frozen sea or up the 
frozen river." 

" But there are Englishmen there, and you are 
going," interrupted Joseph. 

" Yes, there are Englishmen everywhere," said his 

" And why should not English boys go ? Henry and 
Herbert are not afraid of the cold." 

" No, that we are not," cried the two. 

" I would take care of them and help you ; I am a 
great boy, nearly a man, now," continued Joseph. " You 
won't leave us behind, father, we couldn't live without 
you. We'll give you no trouble, we'll learn just as well 
in Archangel ; I'll warrant there is some sort of a school 
there. Catherine says it is such a fine town, and we will 
see the world ; you always said that made men of people. 
Oh, father, dear, let us go with you." And Joseph 
clasped his hand, while the two younger boys clung 
about Mr. Forester, with the tears in Henry's eyes, and 
little Herbert crying outright, as they all joined in the 
petition, " Father, dear, let us go with you." 

The father tried to reason them out of it, but he 
couldn't manage that well, for his own mind was set 
against parting with his boys. He had lived so much 
with them, found such comfort in them, and had 
such a special trust in Joseph's sense and courage, that 
when his eldest and much- valued son proved to him that 


it was making milksops and girls of them not to take 
them to Archangel ; that English boys ought to be able 
to face any climate, and get used to any strange ways ; 
that they would, every one, learn his business and 
be great helps to him ; that old Catherine would 
go with them and keep house for them in the factory ^ 
as she used to do in Mr. Benson's time ; and that 
they would all be as well off as in Meadow Cottage, 
Mr. Forester gave his consent, after some hesitation 
about taking little Herbert, who could not, and would 
not, be left behind ; and it was agreed that the whole 
family, Catherine included, should set out for Archangel, 
provided the old woman was ready to go. She came 
with the supper just as they had reached that conclu- 
sion, and Catherine's eyes positively sparkled under her 
furred cap, when the proposal was mentioned. She 
would go with all her heart, nothing would induce her 
to leave the master and the boys ; and, as for going back 
to Archangel, hadn't she been born there ? there was no 
place like it in the world. Many a time she had longed 
for the fine frost that made the ground so dry and the 
sky so clear for the long- winter nights and the long 
summer days ; it was the only wish she had to see them 
once again, and be laid beside her mother in the bury- 
ing ground of the monastery beside the forest, where 
they kept off the wolves with great fires in winter 




HAYING made up his mind, Mr. Forester lost no time in 
executing his plan. His employer, Mr. Benson, thought 
it a great venture to take his boys with him ; but since 
their father was unwilling to leave them without a near 
relation in England, and they would go, he said it might 
be for the best. He would write to his people in the 
factory to pay the family every attention, and they 
should all have a passage out in the " Ice Queen," one 
of the Russian Company's ships, always freighted with 
his goods, and considered a safe and fast sailer. 

Then there was a providing of warm clothes, socks, 
,and flannels, enough to last them all their lives, the 
boys thought. But old Catherine could tell them how 
.much of the kind they should want in Archangel, and 
Mr. Forester, though he had never been there himself, 
Jiad so many acquaintances in the way of business 
Russian merchants, and English agents who had resided 
in and knew all about the place that he was not at a 
Joss how to make his preparations. 

They were all made at last. The warm clothes 
packed in great chests, with books, stationery, and all 
necessary things to be got cheap and easily in England, 
but scarcely to be had in Archangel at all. Then the 
cottage was given over to a house agent to be taken 
care of and let as well as he could, till Mr. Forester 
returned to his own country which would not be for 
many a year. Joseph and Henry took leave of Dr. Ash- 
ford and their schoolfellows, got some keepsakes and 


all sorts of good wishes. Herbert bade farewell to Miss 
Green and the little girls with a considerable cry, and 
the present of a primer fall of pictures. Old Catherine 
had nobody to take farewell of, but she put her cat in a 
basket, determined that it should go northward too. 
Every one cut a bunch of flowers from the little garden 
they were leaving in its summer bloom their father told 
them none of all those flowers could grow where they 
were going and early one morning in the beginning of 
July, the family that might well be called the exiles of 
commerce, drove down to the London Docks and got on 
board the " Ice Queen," a large merchant ship fitted up 
for the northern trade, with all her cargo already stored 
away and just about to lift her anchor. Away the good 
ship steered down the Thames, and out at the Nore, far 
over the German Ocean day after day and night after 
night ; holding due north past England, Scotland, and 
the Shetland Isles, past Norway, Iceland, and the Isles 
of Faroe, but keeping so far out to sea and out of sight 
of any of them, that scarcely a coast or headland was 
visible, till sailing past Lapland they saw the North 
Cape, a ridge of barren rock, running out into the 
Northern Ocean, and known to geographers as the 
uttermost point of Europe. "When she had doubled 
that cape, as sailors say, otherwise, got fairly round it, 
the ship held on her course by the east coast of Lapland ; 
for now she took an easterly as well a northerly direc- 
tion, till she entered that gulf or inlet of the Northern 
Ocean which pierces deep into Russia, and is called the 
White Sea, from the ice with which it is often covered, 
and receives the great river Dwina, upon which, about 
thirty miles from its mouth, stands the town of Arch- 
angel. On that same track an English ship had steered 


abont the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's long reign, 
the first that ever reached the then desert shore, where 
nothing but a monastery belonging to the Greek church 5 
dedicated, after its manner, to the archangel Michael, 
then stood ; and the land had no inhabitants but the 
few solitary monks who lived there and the wild tribes 
of Samoiedes or Russian Lapps, who hunted the furry 
creatures with which its pine-forests and wintry wastes 
abounded, to live on their flesh and keep themselves 
warm with their skins. The ermine, the sable, the 
black and white fox in short, all animals that yield the 
most valuable furs were to be found there, and their 
skins could be bought from the wild hunters for glass 
beads, knives, and scissors. The English merchantman 
brought home such a cargo as made other ships venture 
on the same voyage. Their profits induced English mer- 
chants with their clerks and servants to go out and settle 
there for the purpose of buying up furs and sending 
them home to England ; thus the English factory was 
founded, and the town of Archangel grew about it, 
taking its name from the old monastery, and gradually 
increasing by the influx of Russian traders and settlers 
till it became the first seaport of the Northern Empire, 
for till its foundation Russia had no trade by sea. 
What is called the Russian Company, that is to say, a 
number of English merchants engaged in the Russian 
trade, took its rise about the same time, and is now one of 
the richest companies in London. It still imports its furs 
from Archangel, keeps its factory and agents there for 
collecting them, and its ships go and come every sum- 
mer, from July to September. 

The Foresters' voyage was a prosperous one, they 
had fair winds and calm seas all the way, and it was 


full of wonders for the boys. The wide waste of water? 
seen for the first time, and sailed over night and day, 
with the sun going down into their depths and the 
moon rising out of them ; the flocks of northern sea- 
birds that passed over, with their strange cries and 
feathers ; the shoals of great northern fishes that rose 
and showed themselves on the surface of the sea ; the 
wild coast of Lapland made up of ridgy rocks and pine 
forests ; the lonely North Cape, so often mentioned in 
their school geography ; and, above all, the lengthening 
of the summer daylight as they sailed northward, was a 
new and marvellous sight for the young travellers. At 
length, they sailed up the White, Sea and entered the 
Dwina, a mighty river, twice the breadth of the Thames 
at Gravesend, and cast anchor at IsTowa, a Russian 
fortress built on an isle at its month, with a little town 
of merchants' storehouses built on its ramparts ; for the 
river is so shallow, notwithstanding its mighty breadth, 
and so blocked up with sandbanks, that no large ship 
can come nearer to Archangel, which lies ten miles up. 
So all the heavily-laden merchantmen anchor there, and 
store up their goods till they are sold, and the officers 
of the Russian custom-house look sharply after their 
government dues. The anchor was cast, the gang- 
way was lowered, the unlading began, and the Forest* 
ers stood in a safe corner of the deck ; the elder 
boys holding little Herbert fast by the hands, while 
they all gazed on the strange scene around them, and 
their father stood hard by watching the unlading and 
answering their curious questions. As far as their eyes 
could reach up and down the river there was nothing 
but ships to be seen, some taking in, some getting out 
cargoes, with a Babel of all the tongues of the North, 


and thousands of boats moving among them, of every 
size and shape, with men in all manner of strange 
dresses. Far off, on either side, lay the low flat lands, 
mostly rough pasture or wild moss, as their father 
told them, for no cornfields or orchards ripen there ; the 
country lies too far north, and must get its bread from 
more southern quarters ; but he pointed to a dim out 
line like a great shadow to the southward, and said it 
was the mighty forest of fir, larch, and pine, which 
covered most of the province, afforded timber for the 
ship and boat building, the chief manufacture in Arch- 
angel, and sent millions of deals to their own England. 
While he was yet speaking one of the boats came 
close alongside the " Ice Queen," and out of it stepped 
first a tall man dressed in a long straight coat, or rather 
gown, of dark blue cloth ornamented with very large 
and bright brass buttons, fastened round his waist with 
a belt of polished black leather, from which a large 
pocket of the same material hung on either side, and 
there were no other garments to be seen, except a pair 
of rough boots and a cloth cap trimmed with fur, like 
old Catherine's. After him came another man still 
taller, but he had a more stooping gait, and his gown, 
though of the very same shape, was made of tanned 
sheepskin. Neither of them showed a morsel of linen, 
they had both bare necks, long, red hair, and longer 
beards of the same colour, covering the whole of their 
faces ; yet the one reckoned himself of the merchant- 
class, for he had been clerk to Mr. Benson's agent who 
died at Archangel, would be clerk to Mr. Forester, and 
his name was, Nicholas Grimz off; while the other was 
Ivan Paulowitz, that is to say in English, John, the son 
of Paul, a serf or peasant in his employment, for doing 


porter's work and the like, and also a nephew to old 
Catherine. Being so long in English service they could 
both speak the language, and made equally low bows to 
Mr. Forester, wishing him a very good day and thank- 
ing God for his safe arrival. Then the clerk entered 
into matters of business, while Ivan kissed his aunt, 
seemed right glad to see her, and fell to talk in Russiac, 
as the boys guessed about them. They had heard the 
language before from merchants and seamen who met 
their father in the streets of London, and Mr. Forester 
understood it well, as his business required. They also 
knew enough of Russian customs to perceive that the 
cloth gown denoted the man of trade and education, 
and the sheepskin coat the poor peasant, whom his lord 
sold with the estate and hired out as he thought proper 
or profitable. The red beard and the red hair, as well 
as that queer costume, made both men look very much 
the same ; but Joseph thought, and Henry agreed with 
him, that Ivan had a remarkably stupid look, and Mr. 
Grimzoff uncommonly cunning eyes. 

They all got into the boat with their household 
goods and chattels. Ivan and another sheepskin-clad 
man rowed them up through the forest of shipping to 
the town, and the boys saw that oldest port of the 
Russian empire, made up of narrow but straggling 
streets of wooden houses, painted all colours, but mostly 
red, blue, and yellow, with wooden churches equally 
painted, their spires topped with large copper balls, and 
their bells always ringing. They saw, too, the only 
stone building in the place, a sort of fortress with a 
deep ditch, and a wall surmounted by towers all round 
it, called in the Russian tongue, " The Court of Trading 
Strangers." The English factory was first built there 


by early and adventurous merchants, and the principal 
firms of the Russian Company have still their ware- 
houses and offices within the walls ; but Germans and 
Dutch, Swedes and Danes, have built there also, and 
the court forms a little town of itself. Along the 
quays, covered with stalls of all northern merchandise, 
and crowded with people in all sorts of strange costumes, 
buying, selling, and making a tremendous noise, through 
the narrow streets and past the wooden churches, the 
Foresters went to their new home ; followed by half a 
score of Russian porters, carrying their goods, and com- 
manded by Grimzoff, they got over a kind of drawbridge 
thrown across the ditch, in at the principal gate, and 
found themselves in an open square, paved like the 
streets of the town with logs of wood, and surrounded 
by tall houses, solidly built, but rather dingy-looking, 
where the merchants kept their stores and offices, and 
the clerks and agents of the Russian Company lived. 
One of them belonged to Mr. Benson, a good but old- 
fashioned house of three stories ; the lower one for his 
agent's residence, the two upper to serve as fur stores. 
It was comfortably furnished, partly in the English, 
partly in the Russian style. The boys were astonished 
at the great size of the stoves, which took up so much 
space in every room ; but Mr. Forester told them they 
would find out their value before Christmas ; and when 
they wondered at the small size of the windows, he said 
they would find out the reason of that about the same 
time. Old Catherine looked at the place as if she found 
herself at home again ; the good woman had been in 
England nearly twenty years, but she remarked how badly 
the furniture had been polished since she left, that her 
grandmother's spinning-wheel, which she had stowed 


away in the store-room, was rather dusty, and that there 
was a new cow in its appointed house, which opened 
conveniently from Catherine's kitchen. All the arranere- 

J O 

ments of that northern home were made for the long 
season of frost and snow, as little going out of doors as 
people could help ; cellars, stores, outhouses, all opened 
from within, and were under the same roof. There was 
no yard, no garden ; but the late agent had left a box of 
mould covered with glass, in which two or three dwarfed 
crocuses were blooming at a window which looked south- 
ward, and Ivan said, though he did not see the use of 
them, he had watered them as his English master used 
to do, just for his sake, because the agent had been kind 
to him. 

It was a place built for the winter, and far unlike 
their Meadow Cottage ; but the Foresters settled them- 
selyes there, unpacked their English necessaries, laid up 
their mighty stock of warm clothes against the cold 
that would come, and made themselves at home in the 
strange country. Mr. Forester had business to attend 
to, and his boys had wonders to see, for everything there 
was new, and every place full of busy life in the brief 
bright summer of the north. Traders from all the 
world's wildest corners were pouring into Archangel 
day and night, or rather the time which is night in 
England, for there is no such thing at that season on the 
shores of the White Sea. They saw the sun go round 
to the west, but instead of setting there he moved away 
lower and redder still to the extreme north, where they 
lost sight of him about eleven o'clock, when he seemed 
to sink into the frozen ocean. Those that happened to 
be awake saw him rise again out of the pine forest to 
the eastward a little after one, and the evening twilight 


never melted away from the sky, but brightened back 
into the dawn. Those long days brought ships from all 
quarters to the river, and traders from the most distant 
regions to the tcwn. Caravans came from Siberia, with 
all manner of furs bought from the northern hunters, 
and Chinese goods purchased at the eastern fairs packed 
in rough heavy waggons, drawn by shaggy horses or 
wild-looking oxen, with Tartar drivers, in canvas coats 
and caps of lambskin. Corn-dealers came from the 
banks of the Wolga and the Don, who had traversed in 
their low flat-bottomed barges that long chain of canals, 
lakes, and rivers, which link the south of Russia to the 
north, a distance of more than a thousand miles. There 
were troops of tall fair Fins from the Swedish frontier, 
who brought their bundles of dried fish, bales of hides, 
and bags of salt, to sell on the crowded quays. There 
were seamen and merchants from all the ports of the 
Baltic, all the Dutch towns, and chiefly from England. 
There were multitudes of German traders and Polish 
Jews, who came overland from far-off cities with every- 
thing to sell, and it was said a good deal of cheating 
among them. But the strangest sight of all to the 
young Foresters, were those wild people whom the first 
English merchantman found hunting and fishing on that 
lonely shore, before a town was built or a ship cast 
anchor there. The dwarfish, swarthy, uncivilized 
Samoiedes, still clothed in the skins of wild animals, 
armed with the bow and quiver, living in tents of half- 
tanned leather, and owning no property but their herds 
of reindeer, and the furs they collect by hunting in the 
trackless wastes and forests which lie between Arch- 
angel and Siberia. With these spoils of the chase tied 
in bundles on their own backs, or packed in larger bales 


on the reindeer, they came, men, women, and children, 
all dreadfully dirty, and with such flat faces, small eyes, 
and dark complexions, that one would scarcely think 
they belonged to the human family. They pitched their 
tents on a rising ground outside the town, for the 
Russians would not let them into it, set the reindeer to 
graze on the coarse mossy grass that grew there in 
summer-time, and made as stiff bargains as they could 
with the agents of the Russian Company ; for wild and 
dirty as they were, the richest sable and the most beau- 
tiful ermine were to be had from the Samoiedes. 

The Court of the Trading Strangers was as busy as 
the town. Mr. Forester and Grimzoff were overworked 
with inspecting furs which the traders brought, making 
English goods pass for money in buying them (the wild 
people had no use for gold or silver coin), and getting 
their purchases properly put away in the store. That 
was partly Ivan's work ; he was a good honest fellow, 
as Catherine's nephew should have been ; but Ivan had 
an unfortunate inclination, too common among Russian 
peasants he was fond of corn brandy, the strong liquor 
of the north. His last coppic, a Russian coin something 
less than a halfpenny, went to procure it, and when 
Ivan had got sufficient of his favourite beverage he was 
fit for nothing but sleeping under the outside stair. Often 
had the unlucky man been admonished, often threatened 
with dismissal; but he was trusty, honest, and Catherine's 
nephew, always ready to promise reformation, and par- 
ticularly grateful to Mr. Forester for saving him from 
Grimzoff's cane, a discipline to which Ivan had been 
pretty well accustomed before his coming, as everybody 
in Russia beats his inferior. 

The boys helped to save him too. They and Ivan 


grew great friends, they assisted him in putting away 
the furs after helping their father and the clerk to count 
and sort them. Every hand was wanted in that busy 
summer time, and it was their pride to show how useful 
they could be in the far north. When business per- 
mitted, they rambled about under Ivan's guidance 
through the strange and crowded town, saw all its 
wondrous sights of men and merchandise, picked up 
Bussian and Tartar words, and looked particularly at 
the ships in the river that came from or sailed away to 
England. Sometimes they went far into the surround- 
ing country, gathered juniper and cranberries in the 
wide rough pasture lands where the small black cows 
and hairy sheep of that northern land were grazing, and 
saw the peasant people with their ways of work and 
life ; pitch- gatherers on the edge of the forest with 
their great fires to burn the fir trees, and pots to catch 
the pitch in ; woodmen who lived and worked among 
the tall pines, cutting them down and hewing them into 
logs to warm the stoves in winter, or dragging them 
away to the saw mills, where they were sawn into deals 
which were shipped by thousands to England. It was 
a great temptation to go far into the forest in search of 
the bright coloured mushrooms and the Lapland rose 
abounding in the warm and sheltered hollows, not to 
speak of the wild birds with cries and plumage un- 
known to our English woods. But Ivan knew there 
were wolves and bears to be met with even in the long 
summer days, and Mr. Forester laid strict commands on 
them not to go out of sight and hearing of the wood- 
men. So the deep thickets and long mossy paths which 
stretched away through the pines and firs, had to be 
"oft unexplored. Ivan said there was no end to them. 


The forest stretched all the way to Siberia, and their 
father promised that they should travel through part of 
it with him on a journey he intended taking to the 
town of Mezen early in the following year. 

" We'll see the forest, then," Joseph would say when 
his brothers looked wistfully along the glades and 
dingles from which they had to turn back. " Papa says 
the way lies right through it, and no stopping place but 
the hunters' house, where travellers never come. He 
will take us out of the way to see it because it is a 
curious place, and was built by a relative of Mr. Ben- 
son's. We'll see the forest, then," and the boys would 
go home rejoicing over that expectation. 



Ix the meantime the busy summer was wearing away. 
Ships left the river, and did not come back again ; the 
few that remained made great haste to get in their 
cargoes before the frost set in. The caravans, with the 
rough waggons and shaggy oxen, left the town on their 
way home to Siberia ; the Tartar corn- dealers moved 
away up the river in their empty barges ; the fur-traders 
became few, and business slackened in the Court. The 
days were shortening ; they could see the sun setting in 
the west now. Cold winds began to blow from the 
north and east ; floods of rain and sleet began to fall. 
The quays grew silent ; in the houses and through all 
the streets where people had slept and traded in the 


open air for the last three months, there were sounds 
of carpenters and hammers at work closing tip crevices 
in the wooden roofs and walls, fitting the windows with 
double sashes, covering the doors with baize, and the 
floors with thick Dutch carpets. 

The winter was coming ; half the merchants of the 
Court went home to their respective countries ; those that 
remained made preparations as actively as the towns- 
people. Mr. Forester was not behindhand ; he had been 
warned of the winters in Archangel; his stoves, his double 
windows, and all the other requisites were got ready ; 
every chink in the house was closed ; a store of pro- 
vender was laid in for the cow. Old Catherine got out 
her grandmother's spinning-wheel, prepared a stock of 
fine flax, and said she would now have a comfortable 
winter, like what she used to have in her young days 
with the old master. 

About the middle of September there was not a ship 
in the river, scarcely a boat to be seen, and very few 
people in the streets ; the wind blew particularly cold 
one night about bed-time ; it rose to a storm before 
morning ; and when they looked out with the first day- 
light, which now came late and dim, all the town was 
white with snow. It continued falling the whole day, 
swept into high white drifts before the blasts till the 
streets were impassable, and nothing but the upper 
windows of many houses to be seen. The storm sub- 
sided ; they cleared the snow away from the roofs and 
windows, but it lay deep and solid in the open streets 
and over all the country round. Next night the frost 
set in ; the snow became firm and hard ; the river got a 
coat of ice which began upland, and gradually grew 
down to the sea, getting thicker and harder as the 



shortening days and lengthening nights went on, with 
long hours of heavy fogs and occasional Gnow- storms, 
the dreary beginning of the northern winter, which 
comes when the corn is yet in English fields, and the 
red apples on the boughs of English orchards. Mr. 
Forester and his boys, like all the Court and all the 
townspeople, were shut fast within doors, there was no 
going out in those thick fogs and fierce storms. There 
was no more business to be done, the fur stores were 
closed, the dealers and traders gone, and the few clerks 
and agents who remained in the place had nothing to 
do but amuse and keep themselves warm for eight or 
nine months at the least. That was the usual course of 
things, and the men of business had reason to be satis- 
fied at the close of that summer, for a better market 
had not been known within the memory of man. The 
furs had been particularly cheap and abundant, and Mr. 
Forester, besides doing well for his employer, had made a 
profitable investment on his own account, which he hoped 
to ship for sale in England after his winter journey to 
Mezen, where he intended to make further purchases 
from the northern hunters, with whom the house had 
always been on such friendly terms, that they were in the 
habit of keeping the best of their furs for its agents. 

Being kind and considerate to everybody, Mr. 
Forester bad shown himself the same to their kindred 
tribe, the Samoiedes, with whom he had done a good 
deal of business, and concluded most of his bargains 
with additional presents of knives, scissors, and looking- 
glasses, greatly to the displeasure of Ghimzoff, who 
warned him that there would be neither peace nor 
profit got out of those greedy heathens, if he did not 
give them less than they asked. 


The small hardy people had not yet moved home 
ward ; they were waiting till the frost made land and 
water hard enongh for their laden sledges and reindeer. 
Their fires and tents could still be seen glimmering 
through the thick fogs and high snow- drifts. They strayed 
occasionally into the town to make their last purchases ; 
but none of them had any more business in the Court, 
and the Foresters were rather astonished, as they sat at 
breakfast one morning, to hear something very like 
scolding below, and see old Catherine enter the room in 
a towering passion, with 

" For mercy's sake, master, come down with your 
whip, and wallop this Samoiede from the door; he'll 
break it in with his fist," and her fears seemed con- 
firmed by a continuous powerful knocking like muffled 
hammers at the outer door. 

" No, no, Catherine," said Mr. Forester, " nobody 
shall be walloped from my house. What does the 
Samoiede want ?" 

" He has broken the big looking-glass he got into 
the bargain for his marten-skins, and he is begging 
another one to take home to his mother-in-law that is 
to be. She is a great woman among them, it seems, and 
won't let her daughter have him if she is not satisfied 
with the presents he brings back from Archangel. I 
told him you had not another glass in the house, but he 
won't take l No ' for an answer. Do, master, let Grim- 
zoffor Ivan wallop him away, since you won't do it 

" They shall not do any such thing," said Mr. 
Forester, getting up ; " the man can speak Bussiac, I 

" Oh, yes, and English too," said Catherine. " He 


is the man that made such a hard bargain about tixj 
marten-skins that day I was up in the store dusting out 
the chests. He calls himself the chief of the tribe ; I 
don't know his heathenish name, but Master Joseph will 
remember him, I'll warrant, he had such a talk with 
him about bows and arrows." 

"It is Sorinsk, father/' said Joseph, recollecting the 
Samoiede chief, who had been in Mr. Forester's store at 
least twice a-week all the summer time. He was the 
man of business for his whole tribe, and spoke English 
tolerably well, having learned it in his frequent dealings 
with the agents of the Russian Company. He was also 
keener and more intelligent than the generality of Sa- 
moiedes, and though given to make hard bargains, and 
get the most he could, was known to be faithful to all his 
contracts, and honester than many a civilized trader. 

" I will go down and speak to him," said Mr. Fores- 
ter ; and down he went, followed by all the boys, to get 
another look of their northern acquaintance, whose bow 
and arrows had special interest for them all. When the 
outer door was opened for Catherine had talked and 
scolded from the window the small, squat figure of the 
Samoiede chief looked very like a moving snow-ball ; but 
snow was no trouble to Sorinsk, he dashed a peck of it 
off the front of his fur-cap with his hands, which never 
saw water except on like occasions, looked up with his 
small narrow eyes, and said in his best English, "My 
honourable master, and all my honourable young mas- 
ters, how you do this very fine morning ? Sorinsk has 
oroKen his glass, and will break his heart too. if he don't 
get one other all the same good, and big for Slamwa, 
him wife's mother : she very proud, great chief's wife ; 
proud and high as the Englishman's house," said S<v 


rinsk, looking np at the fabric, winch seemed so magni- 
ficent compared with his own leathern tent. Forthwith 
he entered on the woes which should come upon himself 
and his promised bride, who dwelt somewhere far north 
of Mezen, if her mother's goodwill were not secured by 
the presentation of a looking-glass good and big as the 
one he had broken. In vain Mr. Forester assured him 
he had no glass to give ; there was no getting done with 
Sorinsk and his tale. The Samoiede returned to it from 
every denial. Time was of no value with his people, and 
Catherine, Ivan, and GrimzofF, who had gathered to the 
spot, began to insist on walloping as the only means of 
getting rid of him, when Joseph recollected that there 
was a glass in his own and his brother's bedroom. " I 
am sure we could dress very well without it," he said ; 
" and it is a pity of the chief. These wild people have 
their own ways and their own troubles ; do let us give it 
to him." 

" Well, if you can spare it," said Mr. Forester, " give 
it to him by all means." 

" Oh, do, honourable master," cried Sorinsk, catching 
part of their whisper, " find me a glass, and Sorinsk will 
pay for it honourably in good skins when you come to 
Mezen ; and if you don't come this winter, Sorinsk will 
drive to the hunter's house, and leave the skins safe and 
dry, and one fox-skin besides for the honourable young 
master oh, do find me a glass ;" and he began his tale 
of woe for the seventh time. 

Joseph ran for the glass, to the utter disgust of" 
Catherine, her nephew, and Grimzoff. The Samoiede 
received it, looked it all over, surveyed his own flat face 
in it, measured it with his dirty hand, said, " He is as 
good and big ; I will bring the furs, honourable master ;" 


and without, another acknowledgment, he thrust his prize 
under his arm, and ran away through the snow. 



THE Foresters saw no more of Sorinsk or his tribe. 
The stormy weather continued for some weeks, shutting 
all civilized men within doors ; but when the first heavy 
snow-fall of the northern winter was over, the wind fell 
to a dead calm ; the hard stern frost set in, making the 
snowy ground like iron, and turning the rivers to stone. 
The sky was heavily laden with thick grey fogs all day, 
but they cleared away at nightfall, letting the bright 
moon and thousands of stars shine out on the white 
wintry landscape below. Then they saw the Samoiedes 
rise up one evening when the fogs were floating away, 
strike their tents, harness the reindeer to their sledges, 
pack in all their goods and purchases, and speed away 
over the frozen plain to their country in the north, a 
journey of fully seven hundred miles, which nobody would 
think of taking in that climate except in winter. Away 
they went, and all the town and all the country round 
came out too with sledges drawn by reindeer or hardy 
northern horses shod for ice travelling. Distant friends 
went to visit each other, men of business took journeys 
to remote towns, young men set out on hunting parties 
far into the forest, or down to the White Sea. It was 
curious to see the winter life of the town and country, 
everybody wrapped up, the rich in fine furs, the poor in 
warm sheep-skins, but all out in the broad moonlight. 


or the shorb faint gleams of sunshine. Some in richly 
lined and decorated sledges, some in rough common 
ones, but all with jingling bells, merry talk and laughter; 
while thousands of young people, men and women, boys 
and girls, went skating along over street and river, as 
their business or pleasure took them. It was the lively, 
leisure, pleasant time of their northern year, making up 
to many for the hard work, the continued bustle, and 
overcrowding of summer. Mr. Forester and his boys 
enjoyed it as well as the rest ; the warm clothes they 
had packed up in England under old Catherine's direc- 
tion were of use to them now. The good woman gloried 
in the fact, " Didn't I tell you what Archangel was," 
she would say ; " there is no winter in all Russia like 
ours. It is the healthiest climate on the face of the 
earth. I have heard that some learned men think the 
Garden of Eden was planted here." The short days 
and the long nights went quickly. December had come, 
and Mr. Forester was talking of keeping Christmas as 
they used to do in England, when all his plans were 
broken up by the arrival of a letter, which came up the 
Dwina by the Petersburg mail, a light sledge drawn by 
reindeer, and getting over four hundred miles, the dis- 
tance between the two cities, in less than three days. 
The letter was from a partner of Mr. Benson's firm, 
which, being one of the oldest in the Russian Company, 
had a house in St. Petersburg too, ever since the great 
Czar Peter built his ne\v capital on the banks of the 
Neva, and commanded all foreign merchants to set u]i 
factories there, on pain of being expelled from trade in 
his dominions. The house in Petersburg did the same 
sort of business as that at Archangel, but the agent there 
\vas not so high in the owner's confidence ; he and his 


clerk had got into a dispute with an officer of the 
Russian custom-house about some dues which they 
thought had been paid. As Mr. Forester was the 
nearest authority, they referred to him for advice, and 
he found the business of a kind which could be best 
settled in Petersburg. People thought nothing of tra- 
velling between it and Archangel, now that the winter 
had really set in and made all roads equally good for 
their warm and well-appointed sledges ; merchants and 
men of business were going and coming every day, and 
experienced drivers were to be got at every post-house. 
" I would take you with me, boys," he said, " to let you 
see the city your geography speaks so much of, but I 
should not have time to let you see anything, because I 
want to come back and keep Christmas in our own 
house here, and I can't spare the expense till my next 
remittance comes from England. Besides, we are going 
to Mezen, you know, to meet your friend of the looking- 
glass, see the tribute paid, and buy up the last of my 
venture of furs. I hope it will pay me well, and help 
me to provide for my boys. Joseph, you'll take care of 
your brothers, especially little Herbert, for Henry can 
look after himself ; and keep good friends with Catherine 
and Grimzoff. I can leave my goods and you to him 
safely, though he is a stranger." 

So Mr. Forester thought, and so thought his boys. 
The clerk had always been very civil and accommodating 
to them ; he had the best of characters from the former 
agent. Mr. Forester had kept none of his affairs from 
him ; Grimzoff knew the amount of furs he had in store on 
his own account, knew what he had agreed to purchase 
from the northern tribes at Mezen, and if he happened 
to be detained in Petersburg beyond the appointed time, 


the clerk was empowered to take his boys with him 
and make the purchase in his name. 

Having settled that question, thongh determined to 
return in time to keep Christmas with his boys, if pos- 
sible, Mr. Forester hired a warm travelling sledge, called 
a katbitka, in which one could sleep on the journey 
and carry one's provisions, for there are few inns in 
Russia ; engaged a driver and post-boy experienced in 
travelling between Archangel and Petersburg ; pro- 
vided himself with a store of wrappers ; advised every- 
body at home to behave well till he came back ; and set 
forth one evening when the moon was rising and the 
fogs clearing away. Joseph, Henry, and little Herbert 
went with him as far as the outskirts of the town. It 
was the first time they had parted with papa for so 
long; they promised him not to run too many risks 
in learning to skate and sledge, not to venture into 
the woods without Ivan, and especially to be guided 
by Grimzoff, and do whatever the trusted clerk bade 
them till his return. So they parted in good spirits, 
the three stood watching the long, low, covered sledge, 
as it sped away over the icy plain, taking their father 
from them, and then walked back with a sad, lonely 
feeling at their hearts, to the Court of Trading 

The time passed more slowly and heavily in their 
father's absence ; they missed him morning, noon, and 
night; but Grimzoffwas kind to them, Ivan had nothing 
to do but help in their amusements, when the corn 
brandy was not too convenient, and the winter sights 
and doings of the town were as many and lively as 
ever. Mr. Forester's first letter told them of his safe 
arrival within three days, of his regret at not being 


able to bring them with him, Petersburg looked so 
grand and gay in its winter dress, and his fear that 
. the business on which he had gone would detain him 
longer than he expected. His next letter said the dis- 
pute with the custom-house officer had gone so far, 
and there were so many matters to settle, that he 
could not return before the middle of January, but they 
were to keep Christmas in the English fashion without 
him, invite all their young acquaintances in the Court, 
and drink his health in the elder wine they had 
brought from England. He also reminded them that 
they were to go to Mezen with Grimzoff, from whom he 
got the most satisfactory accounts of them and every- 
thing at home. 

The boys followed their father's counsel ; they kept 
Christmas without him and found it a dull one, the half- 
Russian boys of the Court did not understand the business 
at all, old Catherine had the rheumatism, and Ivan was fit 
for nothing but sleeping on the stove. Grimzoff helped 
the fun with all his power, but being a Russian too, he 
was not up to the thing, and just then making his pre- 
parations for the journey to Mezen, which seemed to 
occupy the clerk's mind uncommonly. Every mail 
brought him letters from Petersburg, and the boys 
thought from Mr. Forester. He got one about the 
beginning of the new year which seemed to have a won- 
derful effect upon him. Joseph saw him take it out of 
his pocket, read it over to himself, and look keenly at 
them when ho thought nobody observed him. Once or 
twice the boy was on the point of asking if all were 
well with his father ; but Grimzoff looked so cheerful, and 
made such lively preparations for his journey, enlarging 
on the furs he should buy and the wonders they should 


see, that Joseph thought things must be right, and pre- 
pared for the journey too, with good will and great 



THE town of Mezen stands on a river of the same 
name, about twenty-eight miles from the Icy Ocean, 
and consists of nearly a hundred huts and houses, a 
church, a market-place, and a government store. It is 
reckoned the chief town and grand metropolis of the 
Samoiede country, but only Russians live there ; the 
northern tribes think it too far south for them. Their 
chief men in trade travel, and by authority come to Mezen 
once a year in midwinter, with the tribute which those 
primitive and peaceable people have paid time imme- 
morial to the Russian government for leave to live and 
hunt in the frozen wilderness, where nobody else could 
exist; namely, three fox-skins for every hunter who 
carries bow and quiver. They generally bring a good 
deal of furs besides, to sell to the many traders and 
merchants who repair to the little town from all parts 
of Russia, especially Archangel, which is considered 
near in those extensive regions, being only a hundred 
and forty miles south-west of Mezen. 

"A nice little journey," said Grimzoff. " You will 
travel with me in the light sledge, my young masters. 
Ivan shall take charge of the goods I have to pay the 
Samoiedes with in the heavy one. TVe shall sleep and 
drive by turns ; the horses are easily managed in frost* 


time. You can do it as well as myself, I know. We 
shall only stop to change at the post-house, and my 
friend Nicholas Kloskow will take us in, and make us 
comfortable at Mezen." 

The boys got ready in high spirits on the day he 
had appointed to set out. It was a week or so earlier 
than the time their father had talked of; but Grimzoff 
knew all about the business, and doubtless had reasons 
for being in a hurry. 

About two o'clock p.m. on the twelfth of January, 
when the frost was at its hardest and keenest, the long 
night had fallen, and the moon and stars were shining 
as bright as day, the large heavy sledge stored with 
goods to pay the Samoiedes and provisions for their 
journey under Ivan's charge, and the light covered one 
for the boys and the clerk, were at the door. They had 
got on all the wraps, every one covered to the nose, as 
people must be who travel in the north ; and old Cathe- 
rine came to the door to see them off." 

" Good-bye, good-bye !" said all the boys, rushing 
out and scrambling in, for Grimzoff was there cracking 
his whip, and away they went. 

It was a glorious night ; all round them the solitary 
plains lay like one wide extended mirror, reflecting moon 
and stars, till they plunged into the great forest. There 
was no underwood amongst those mighty trees, great 
pines that rose high enough for the clouds to rest on 
them, now all crusted and gemmed with frost, long 
icicles hanging from every bough, and glistening like 
diamonds in the moonlight. Every weaker plant had 
shrunk into the earth, or died away before the fierce 
winter, and there was clear room for horse and sledge 
to pass between their great trunks in anr direction. 


Regular road there was none that the boys could see ; 
every path on the frozen ground and between the great 
trees looked the same to them. But Grim /off and Ivan 
knew the way to Mezen by landmarks which their eyes 
could not discover, for many a time had they travelled 
it in the same fashion. Besides, the clerk kept them so 
amused with his lively chat and tales of former journeys, 
and what they might expect to see, that Joseph forgot 
to call his attention to what struck him as a rather 
unsafe arrangement. There was a large wooden bottle 
under Ivan's seat in the sledge, to which the man in 
charge of the goods and provisions had such frequent 
recourse, that he wondered Grimzoff did not perceive 
it, and expect the consequences. The first of them was 
that just as the party emerged on a wide clearing made 
by woodmen or by nature, in the heart of the great 
forest whose dark outline could be seen bounding it on 
all sides, Ivan's head began to droop considerably, the 
whip fell from his hand, the reins followed it, and the 
horses met with some rough ground which made them 
swerve away from the track. 

Grimzoff at once awoke to the state of the case, and 
exclaiming, " That rascal has got drunk ; here, Master 
Joseph, take you my whip and reins, these horses will 
go as quiet as cats with you," he jumped out of the 
sledge, and took possession of Ivan's seat, tumbling him 
unceremoniously down among the bales and bundles at 
the bottom, till nothing but his red head could be seen, 
and nothing of Ivan heard but a long resounding snore. 
The boys could not help laughing; Grimzoff himself 
seemed in better humour than usual, for he only gave 
the prostrate serf a sly kick or two, and they drove 
merrily on till once more at the entrance of the forest. 


There two great paths led through the mighty pines, 
the one bearing to the east, the other due north ; and 
where they branched off stood one of those great rocks 
or boulder-stones scattered over all the countries of the 
north, and used as sign-posts, as this evidently was, for 
there were Russian characters rudely cut upon it, and a 
Greek cross pointing to the different roads. 

"It's only telling you the way to Mezen," said 
Grimzoff in reply to their questions. " There it is," and 
he pointed to the track that led eastward. At the same 
time something seemed to go wrong with his horses ; 
one of them stumbled and plunged backward, as if 
suddenly pulled up ; and Grimzoff cried in great vexa- 
tion, " Here is a fine business, his hind shoes are coming 
off; drive you on that way. Master Joseph, there is a 
blacksmith a mile or two from this who will fasten 
them on. It's out of my way to go to his forge, but I 
can't help it." 

" Let us go with you," cried all the boys in a breath ; 
" we never saw a Russian blacksmith at work, and we 
don't know the way when you leave us." 

"No, I can't take you," cried Grimzoff, "the black- 
smith is a cross man, and does not like the English ; in 
fact, it would not be safe for you, and you can't miss 
the way. There, it lies straight before you " he 
pointed to the eastward track " drive on as fast as you 
like, Master Joseph, I'll be sure to overtake you drive 
on, 1 say ; are English boys afraid to be left by them- 
selves ?" 

"We are not afraid!" cried the whole three, and 
little Herbert was the loudest, " but hadn't we better 
wait for you ?" 

" No, no, drive on if you are not afraid ;" and giving- 


his foremost horse the whip, Grimzoff scoured away 
along the northward road, while Joseph, to prove his 
own and his brothers' courage, drove on as he had been 
directed. He did not like the clerk leaving them in 
the midst of the wide forest, and long, lonely night ; 
but their father had told them to be guided by Grim- 
zoff, and no doubt he would overtake them. 

They drove on in that hope for some time, first at a 
rapid, and then at a slower pace, as the clerk did not 
make his appearance, and the path became narrower 
and more winding among the trees. Joseph slacked 
the reins and they all looked back, straining their eyes 
as far as they could see, and holding their breath to 
catch the distant sound of the sledge bell. But no sight, 
no sound of life seemed in all the forest, no sign of Grim- 
zofFs coming, and they were alone in the frozen wil- 
derness, not knowing what turn of the intricate way 
was the right one for Mezen. 

" I am afraid to go on lest we miss our way," said 
Joseph, " I hope Grimzoff will soon come.*' That was 
to keep his brothers' spirits up, for the boy's heart sunk 
with a strange dread that they had missed their way 
already, and the clerk might not find them. 

" Is that him coming ?" said little Herbert, bending 
forward to listen. His two brothers did the same, and 
they could all three catch a sound far off and strange, like 
mingled cries of some kind which seemed coming nearer. 
In another minute it was like a pack of hounds in full 
chase perhaps some northern hunters had roused a 
wild boar and were coming that way. The sounds 
came nearer still, the horses gave a terrified neigh and 
plunged through the pines. It was beyond Joseph's 
power to check them, and he did not try it, for a fearful 


conviction flashed on his mind at the same instant ; it 
was no northern hunt, no pack of hounds they heard, 
but the hungry wolves howling for prey, and now 
catching scent of them. They could see them by this 
time scouring through the wood, a gaunt grey countless 
troop, increasing every moment, till they seemed 
hundreds strong, and filling the silent night with a 
chorus of the most horrible howls. There was no 
safety but in flight, and on the horses flew, dashing the 
sledge against the trees, and plunging through every 
turn and opening. The poor animals knew their 
danger as well as the poor boys ; they wanted neither 
whip nor rein, but scoured away neighing in mortal 
terror, while the wolves came on howling behind, and 
his two younger brothers clung to Joseph, crying out, 
"What shall we do, they will eat us ?" 

" Pray to God," said Joseph, " He alone can save 
us." The boy spoke with a gasp of fear, for he saw no 
possibility of escape, and a thousand chances against 
them ; the sledge might be broken against the pines, 
or they might be thrown out, the horses might break 
the harness and leave them to their fate ; at any rate 
he knew that the Russian wolves could tire out the 
strongest horses, and already they were gaining fast 
upon them. 

" Save us, Lord, save us !" cried the three forsaken 
children in one wild prayer, and it seemed to be 
answered at the moment, for as the sledge turned 
sharply round, Joseph caught sight of an opening 
among the thickest of the pines and a log-house stand- 
ing in it. If they could get refuge there they might 
yet be saved ; they had got a slight start of the wolves, 
the pack had lost sight of them by the sudden t^rn, and 


were expressing their disappointment by louder howls. 
Joseph strained with all his strength to turn the horses 
that way, but his utmost efforts were in vain against 
their headlong speed. Yet as the terrified creatures 
dashed by, the sledge was suddenly caught by the pro- 
jecting roots of a huge pine, half overturned in some 
fierce northern storm. The traces were fortunately 
strong, and there the horses stood, plunging, struggling, 
and making the forest ring with their terrified neighs. 
The wolves, in the meantime, had recovered the scent 
and were coming on. It was hard to leave the poor 
horses to them, but Joseph saw there was no other 
chance for life. 

"Follow me," he cried to Henry, clutching little 
Herbert fast with one hand, while with the other he 
grasped the overhanging pine roots, cleared the tossing 
sledge with one jump, followed by his brother, rushed 
to the door of the log-house, drove it open with one 
vigorous push, there was no time for knocking, slammed 
it behind him, and the three set their backs to it by way 
of bar. They were saved, but their hearts beat hard 
and loud, and their breath came short and quick as they 
heard the poor horses wrench away the sledge at last, 
and dash on through the forest pursued by the howling 
pack, and the howls rose louder in a few minutes 
mingled with what the boys knew to be the dying 
shrieks of their poor horses. 

" They will come back to us when they have finished 
them," said Henry, with chattering teeth. 

" They can't get at us through this strong door," 
said Joseph ; " stand fast against it till I strike a light 
and see if there be either bolt or lock. What a good 
thing it was I put a box of matches in my pocket, and 
two of Catherine's pitched spills. 


The light was struck, and then they saw that the 
house had strong walls made of pine logs. It contained 
but one room, with only one window, not glazed but 
protected by a stout shutter, and the single door against 
which they stood was some three inches thick of solid 
timber, and had equally strong bars above and below, 
which the boys lost no time in making fast, and Henry 
said they would keep out all the wolves in Hussia. 
There was no furniture but one large stove, with some 
straw on the top of ifc as if for a bed, for that is the 
favourite sleeping-place of the Russian peasant, two 
long rough stools, a table of the same make, and a 
small heap of firewood in the corner. Nobody had 
been there for some time. There were very old ashes 
in the stove, some wild bird's feathers, and the tracks 
of wild animals on the floor as if they had come there 
in search of food and shelter, and had no face of man 
to fear. Before they had well made these discoveries, 
the wolves came howling round the house for the prey 
that had escaped them. 

" Oh for our father's gun," said Henry, " to let fly 
at them from the window." 

" I wish we had it," said Joseph ; " but I'll just 
light this wood and throw a few firebrands out among 
them. Nothing frightens wolves like that." 

The wood was lighted and the firebrands thrown out 
with great caution, not to set the pine walls on fire or 
open the shutter too wide, lest the enemy might leap in. 
The wolves fled as the blazing chips hissed and flared 
among them, but came back in a few minutes closer 
than ever, and with louder howls. The boys could see 
them tearing at the walls with their fore-feet, and trying 
to thrust their noses under the door, till heavy clouds 


began to come over the moon, and they knew that the 
fog which came with the winter day, was settling down 
on the forest. Then the wolves drew off, pausing on 
their homeward march to utter long melancholy howls 
that made the wide woods ring, but at length these 
fearful cries died away in the distance. A grey glimmer 
of daylight began to appear in the east, and Joseph and 
Henry found little Herbert fast asleep between them, 
with his head leant against the door, and the tears of 
silent terror still undried on his young face. 



THEY lifted the child up, laid him on the straw at the 
top of the stove, and covered him with Joseph's great- 
coat. He was worn out, and so were his brothers, and 
when they had kindled a little fire of the wood left in 
the corner and crouched close to it for that deserted 
house in the forest was deadly cold poor Henry's 
heart, which had held out so gallantly against the 
terrors of the wolves, fairly gave way, and he began to 
cry and wring his hands. 

" What shall we do, Joseph ? What will become of 
us in this fearful frozen place ? We have nothing to 
eat, it is all gone with Grrimzoff, and he will never find 
us here. The wolves have chased us miles out of the 
way, and if they don't eat us at last we must be 
starved. Oh ! Joseph, what shall we do ?" 

" Put our trust in God," said Joseph. 


The boy spoke bravely, though every word his brother 
said had gone to poor Joseph's heart like a knife. It 
was only the echo of his own thoughts. He knew it all 
better than Henry did ; and, what was worse, Joseph had 
now a strong suspicion that the clerk never intended to 
find them, that he had allowed Ivan free recourse to the 
wooden bottle, made out that the horse wanted shoeing, 
and left them on the forest road for some end of his 
own. But like a true elder brother Joseph kept that 
fearful suspicion to himself, and tried to cheer up 
Henry with the only cheer he could offer, reminding 
him of all their father had told them, and of all they 
had read about the wonderful works of Providence, 
preserving people in the midst of danger, and bringing 
them safe out of the very jaws of death. " Daniel 
was worse off than we are when he was cast into the 
lions' den, and Moses when he was left in the ark of 
bulrushes on the river ; yet they were both preserved, 
and so may we. The same Eye that watched over us in 
our home in England, on the wide sea and in the 
strange city, sees us here in the midst of these frozen 
woods, and the same hand can send us help. If Grim- 
zoff don't find us, some hunter or traveller may come 
this way. It's a frequented place, you see ; houses and 
stoves are not put up in the forest for no use. There 
may be a road leading to some town which we may find 
when the day gets clearer. Let us not lose heart, 
Henry, but pray to God. You know He is the hearer 
of prayer, and a present help in times of trouble, as the 
Psalm says." 

So Joseph and his brother knelt down beside the half- 
heated stove, where wild forest birds had dropped their 
feathers in that forsaken house, and prayed earnestly, 


as people in fear and danger are apt to do ; there was 
nowhere else they could look for help but that best and 
highest quarter, and dreadfully as they were situated 
the poor boys rose up with something like hope in their 
hearts. Old Catherine had put a parcel of pepper 
cakes, favourite tit-bits over all the north, into Joseph's 
pocket ; he recollected them now, gave two to Henry, 
ate one himself, kept the rest for a reserve, and per- 
suaded his younger brother at last to lie down under 
his great-coat beside little Herbert, and take a sleep till 
the fog cleared away, and they could see their where- 
about more clearly. He laid down beside them himself, 
but Joseph could not sleep. The thoughts of their 
situation pressed on him, his father far off in Petersburg, 
perhaps never to see them more, never to find out what 
had become of them. His two younger brothers, must 
they perish with cold and hunger before his eyes, and 
he had been partly the cause of bringing them to that 
frozen country? It was through his persuasion that 
their father brought them with him from England, and 
were they to be starved or eaten by the wolves ? Joseph 
got up quietly, so as not to wake his brothers, but 
determined to see the place, and what chance of escape 
there might be, for the red sun was now looking out 
through the thick curtain of fog that hung above the 
pines. He unbarred the door with as little noise as 
possible, closed it carefully behind him, and scrambled 
up the half fallen trunk of an old and branchless tree. 
From that elevation Joseph could see far and wide, but 
all round lay the same hard white wilderness, tall trees 
fringed with icicles, and frozen ground everywhere the 
same, without beaten path or sign of life. There was 
no sound to be heard in all the woods, the beasts of 


prey had retired to their dens, and the smaller creatures 
and wild birds had left the land at the approach of 
winter. Joseph came down from the tree, and moved 
about here and there among the pines, gathering dry 
sticks to help their fire, and looking out for some track 
that might lead to human habitations, till he heard the 
voices of his two brothers wildly crying, " Joseph, 
Joseph, where are you ? have you gone away and left 
us ?" 

" No ; here I am," said Joseph, running with his 
bundle of sticks up to them, where they stood hand 
in hand shivering in the doorway. " Don't be afraid at 
every trifle ; don't cry, Herbert, here is a pepper cake 
for you. I have such a lot in my pocket, and I'll give 
you another, but we can't eat them all, you know, till 
Grimzoff or somebody comes to us. Come in, we'll 
make a rousing fire there are sticks to be got anyway ; 
then we'll go out altogether, gather as many as we can, 
and call with all our might; some one in the wood 
might hear us, or we might find a way to some inha- 
bited place." 

They made up their fire, wrapped themselves up as 
well as they could, and went out, cold and hungry, but 
in good heart. Joseph's cheerful words and looks kept 
them from giving way. It was hard for him to keep 
that face of cheer with so little cause for it, and harder 
still to keep the boys, especially little Herbert, from 
eating all the pepper cakes. 

Out they went, keeping close together, and always 
in sight of the log house, for Joseph had a dread of 
losing their way back to it in the trackless forest. They 
gathered sticks, they shouted with all their power, they 
searched for paths, and often thought they had found 


them ; but one led them to the root of a hollow tree, 
from which they got the glimpse of a bristly head and 
white gleaming tusks, signs that a wild boar had fixed 
his head quarters there; and in another their shouts 
were answered by a long growl, which sounded like 
hollow thunder, and they knew it was a great brown 
bear, waking up in some cavern of the forest. Those 
sights and sounds made them fly back to the log house, 
and bar the door with all speed. Then the twilight of 
the short day began to fall, the long night came down, 
and they heard the howl of the wolves gathering once 
more in search of prey. They did not come about the 
house that night, but went by in howling packs ; all 
night long the boys could hear them in different direc- 
tions, and if ever they looked into the clear cold moon- 
light there was some gaunt grey back crouching at the 
root of the nearest pine, as if on the watch for the door 
to be opened, or some of them to come out. 

The night passed, and another day came like the 
one before it, only the cakes in Joseph's pocket grew 
fewer, and the sticks were harder to get. They made 
the same endeavours to be heard or to find a path, but 
with no better success, and were frightened back by the 
glare of fiery eyes, and the crash of withered boughr 
where the pines grew thickest. Another night, with 
hopeless prayers and hearts sinking in despair, with 
heavy sleep and terrible dreams, broken by the long 
howls of the wolves they came about the house now, 
and pushed and scratched at the door. Another morn- 
ing, but no going out to gather sticks and call for help. 
A terrible snow-storm, one of these which often come at 
mid-winter in the north, as if to renew the white coat 
of nature, had set in ; the sky was one mass of leaden 


grey, the wind came in hollow moaning gusts, so strong 
that they made the old pines bow and groan, driving 
before them clouds of hardened snow, or rather hail, 
which rattled against the door and window like a torrent 
of swan shot. By degrees the wind ceased, and then 
came the regular snowfall, one continuous shoAver of 
large heavy flakes, which covered the ground in a few 
hours deep enough to drown people in the hollow places, 
half darkened the window, and raised a high barrier at 
the door. Before night came their sticks were all 
burned, and their fire went out ; they had eaten the last 
of the pepper cakes, they had exhausted every hope and 
every source of comfort. Poor little Herbert cried him- 
self to sleep, and Joseph and Henry having once more 
said their prayers, and feeling fairly worn out, crept 
up on the straw, laid the child between them, covered 
themselves and him with all the clothes they had, 
stretched their arms over each other their brotherly 
love helped to keep them warm to the last and fell into 
half sleep, half stupor. 

Joseph himself had lain down in despair that night, 
there seemed no chance of escape or relief. He had 
been sleeping and dreaming of the Meadow Cottage, and 
old happy days far away in England, when a scratching 
delving sound at the door made him start up and listen. 
Were the wolves actually getting in ? Joseph scrambled 
down from the stove, the place was pitch dark, for the 
fierce cold made them glad to keep the window shut. 
But he could hear the sounds going on outside, there 
was something clearing and scraping its way throng!) 
the snow. Joseph had heard of bears doing the like, 
and crept to the door to make sure that its bars were 
safe ; but as he stretched to feel the upper one, his ear 


cauglit a sound that no bear could make; it was 
"humph" uttered by human organs. Joseph's heart 
bounded as if to a bugle blast. It bounded still higher 
when a low continuous knocking began outside ; the 
bolts were withdrawn in an instant, and there, all one 
mass of snow, with a horn lantern suspended from his 


neck, and shining like a star, but looking as undisturbed, 
and knocking away with his fist as hotly as he had done 
at Mr. Forester's door, stood Sorinsk, the Samoiede 

"Are you here, my young master?" said he, step- 
ping calmly in, and shaking off the snow. 


" Henry, Herbert, we are saved," cried Joseph, run- 
ning to his brothers and shaking them up. 

" Sorinsk," cried both boys, darting down from the 
store as if new life had got into their hearts. 

" Yes, my young masters, it's Sorinsk, come to leave 
the furs he promised to your honourable father for the 
looking-glass ; it was very good and big : Slamwa was 
satisfied, and Sorinsk got his wife. You'll take the furs 
to your honourable father ;" and out of the capacious 
wallet which hung at his back, the Samoiede produced 
two marten, two ermine, and two sable skins, with the 
air of a man redeeming his pledged honour. " Here, 
my young master," he said, presenting them to Joseph 
with the addition of a very handsome white fox-skin, 
" you will take them safe to him, and keep this, Sorinsk 
promised it yourself for finding the glass." 

" Is this the hunter's house then ?" said all the boys 
in a breath, recollecting how much they had heard of the 
place as having been built years before by one of Mr. 
Benson's relations, a young man who, as people say, 
would do no good in the business he was brought up to, 
and when his friends had settled him at Archangel as a 
clerk, got acquainted with northern hunters, took to 
their way of life, became a notable hunter himself, 
and chose to build his house in that desolate region. 
The man had been long ago lost in a snow-storm, which 
came upon him while tracking a bear in the forest, but 
his house remained in that solitary spot, some way off 
the great road to Mezen, held in high esteem by travel- 
lers and hunters as a place of refuge from sudden storms, 
and of rest when over-wearied, and kept safe and sound 
on account of common necessity. Had the boys known 
that they might have had better hopes ; at the same time, 


bnt for the getting of the looking-glass, and the Samoiede 
not finding their father at Mezen, they might have 
perished there with cold and hunger before anybody 
came. The Providence which had guided them to the 
spot, and saved them from the wolves, was with them 
still. The poor children gave thanks with tears of joy, 
which even Joseph could not restrain. 

" Have you no bread, young masters ?" said Sorinsk. 
His flat face and narrow eyes did not look ugly then, for 
there was honest feeling and kindness in them, and out 
of his wallet he brought what looked very like a lump 
of black earth, another of a brownish colour, and a rough 
wooden bottle. The lump of black earth was a loaf of 
Samoiede bread, made of rye-meal, reindeer's moss, and 
pounded roots, the brownish lump was hard salt cheese, 
made of reindeer's milk, and the bottle contained a thick 
hot drink, which the northern tribes make of honey and 
fermented mushrooms. "With his dirty hands, Sorinsk 
divided this fare among them. Nothing would have 
made the poorest in England stand the smell, much less 
the taste, of it ; but the hungry boys thought it the best 
bread and cheese they had ever eaten, and a draught 
from his wooden bottle warmed their very hearts. 

Then Sorinsk explained to them how he had missed 
their father, but saw Grimzoff and Ivan at Mezen ; that 
Ivan had told him they were lost on the road, because 
Joseph would drive on, and had either lost himself and 
his brothers in some forest swamp or been devoured by 
the wolves. That story had been evidently told to Ivan 
when he woke out of his sleep at the bottom of the 
sledge. The clerk had repeated it to Sorinsk, but the 
shrewd Samoiede's suspicions had been somehow aroused. 
He would not deal with Grimzoff, though the latter waa 


buying furs at an unusually liberal rate, and had offered 
to take charge of the promised skins for Mr. Forester. 
Without a word of what he thought or meant, Sorinsk 
harnessed his reindeer, mounted his sledge, and drove 
off to the hunter's house, there to deposit the promised 
skins, as few but Samoiedes came that way, and Sorinsk 
knew his tribe would not steal them. The snow-storm 
had overtaken him near the end of his journey, but he 
and his reindeer knew their way in light or darkness, 
and, with a sort of rude snow-plough, which always 
forms part of a Samoiede's travelling equipments, they 
got through the drifts and reached the barred-up door in 
time to save the starving children. 

When Sorinsk had heard their story, he merely 
shook his head, as if nothing better was to be expected ; 
then went out into the calm, starlight night which had 
succeeded the stormy day, unharnessed his reindeer, 
rubbed the snow off them, led them into a corner of 
the house, brought in his various goods, including a 
basket of moss for them, two bear- skin cloaks for him- 
self, a leather bag full of charcoal and pine chips dipped 
in pitch and grease, and another wallet full of pro- 
visions like those he had shared with the boys. They 
gave him all the help they could in his settling arrange- 
ments. Lastly, Sorinsk brought in to another corner 
his own sledge, long, low, and light as a fishing-skiff, 
and as he laid it down said 

" It will keep warm there till to-morrow makes the 
snow hard ; then Sorinsk will take you home to Arch- 
angel, among the great houses and the Englandmen, 
for Grimzoff is a very big rogue." 

The Foresters thanked him with all their hearts. 
He made a fire for them of his charcoal and pitched 


chips ; they got well warmed, went to sleep on the top 
of the stove under one of his bear-skin cloaks, while he 
slept under the other ; and with the first glimmer of 
daylight the Samoiede woke them np, saying 

" Come, the snow is hard, the fog will be thin, and 
we will go to yonr honourable father's house." 

Right gladly they helped to harness the reindeer, 
seated themselves in the sledge with all Sorinsk's goods 
and chattels, and drove away over the now frozen sur- 
face of the new-fallen snow, out of the forest, by ways 
which they never could have found, across the plain, and 
into the woods once more. All the way Sorinsk enter- 
tained them with Slamwa's admiration of the looking- 
glass, the beauty and accomplishments of his Samoiede 
bride ; she had the flattest face in the whole tribe, and 
could kill a wolf, it appeared ; with the grandeur and 
magnificence of his wedding-feast, the reindeer that had 
been slaughtered and the bears that had been killed for 
the occasion. At length they discerned, through the 
clear night which had corne again \vith all its stars, the 
distant spires of the wooden churches, and the stone 
towers which arose round the court of the trading 
strangers. In less than half an hour the sledge was in 
the town, and at the Court gates ; the principal one 
stood open ; there was a sledge and horses at their own 
door, and out of it was stepping their father, just 
arrived from Petersburg. What joy there was in their 
hearts to see him ; what a telling of their adventures 
and escape ; what thanks and presents were bestowed 
on the honest Samoiede ; what a lifting up of old 
Catherine's hands there was when she heard their 
story ! 

*' And I knew the villain meant no good," said the 


old woman ; " lie stayed so long in the store, and kept 
such a counting up of something to himself." 

" But what could make him do such a wicked thing 
as to send us astray in the forest ? We might have 
been lost or eaten by the wolves," said Joseph. 

" I'll tell you, my boy," said Mr. Forester, "it was that 
root of all evil, covetousness. Listen to me. The very 
week before I left Petersburg, there was an Englishman 
of the name of Forester, engaged in the fur trade like 
myself, but no relation of ours, drowned by the breaking 
of the ice on which he was skating somewhere up the 
Neva. One of Grimzoff 's acquaintances in the town, 
believing it was I that had met with such a fate, sent 
him the intelligence, doubtless in the letter which you saw 
him reading so often. He knew what a valuable stock of 
furs I had in hand, how much I had agreed to ouy from 
the Samoiedes at Mezen ; and thinking to get the whole 
bought and sold for himself before news of the agent's 
death would reach England, he sent my poor children 
astray in the forest to perish with cold, or be devoured 
by wolves, that there might be 110 claimants to my 
property. I heard the whole story from a trader who 
travelled with me, for the very purpose of buying the 
furs from Grimzoff, though he did not know, nor did I 
at that time, what means the wretch was taking to 
secure them, to himself. I guessed there was some foul 
play, and have sent to the governor to put the police 
on his track. And now, my children, there is some- 
thing more that we have to be thankful for. Mr. Benson 
wishes me to come back to England as soon as the 
summer thaw opens the river, and a ship can come up 
to take us. He is pleased to say he cannot do without 
me in the warehouse, and the gentleman who got into 


the dispute with the Custom-house officers in Petersburg 
would do better here. So we will go back to our own 
mild winters and our Meadow Cottage. Catherine will 
go with us, she says. You will have seen the far north, 
and never forget it, I dare say. Neither will any of us 
forget this truly noble chief of his tribe, whose honour 
and honesty enabled him to save and bring you back 
to me ; but for that looking-glass and his faithful 
keeping of his promise, I should have lost my three 
boys. Never forget that, my children, nor in all your 
after lives forget to acknowledge and trust in the 
Providence that was with you in the desert, when there 
was nothing around you but wolves and winter, and 
you were deserted and doomed children." 



* ' T ATE again, Helena ; 
I J really I wish you 
would try to be a little more punctual." 

" I do not want any tea, thank you, mamma." 

" Oh! nonsense, child, have your tea now you are 
come, but it is very provoking of you always to keep 
us waiting." 

" Which old woman was it this evening, eh, Miss 
Foster ?" asked a young man, who, appearing to have 
finished his tea, had chosen a luxurious arm-chair for his 
comfort, and the newspaper for his amusement. 

" No old woman at all, Walter ; but a very pretty, 
oh, a very pretty young one." 

" In your opinion." 

" In every one's, she is beautiful." 

" Discuss that important subject presently, Helena," 


gaid her father, who had not yet spoken. " You have 
kept your mother long enough over the tea, take what 
you want and have the things cleared." 

The young lady did as she was bidden, taking one 
cup of tea only, and rising from the table she rang to 
have the tilings cleared; and then drawing a chair 
near the window sat herself down with no employ- 
ment, her hands folded listlessly on her lap, and her 
eyes fixed on the clear evening sky, which the setting 
sun had tinged with a golden hue. She was ver* 
pretty, Helena Foster, just seventeen, tall and slight, 
with brown hair, real brown hair, and eyes to match, 
and a complexion soft and fair, with not much colour. 
She was the last remaining daughter of the home. 
They had two boys, but of four fair girls she alone 
remained, and very dear and precious she was to them 
as you may suppose. She had much in her disposition 
to merit their love, for she was warm-hearted, affec- 
tionate, tender, generous, and truthful, full of good 
resolves, and high and noble ambitions. But she had 
one fault which I in the course of my story shall endea- 
vour to show you, and which perhaps many of those 
who read her story will find they themselves possess. 
Possibly the fact that the poor parents had only her 
left to them now had occasioned them to grant her 
rather more licence than would otherwise have been 
accorded to a girl of her years. She did do a great deal 
as she liked, and was seldom rebuked by her doating 
father and mother for anything. 

The young man whom she had addressed was a 
nephew of Dr. Foster's, who laboured under what his 
uncle considered the misfortune of having been left by 
his father independent of the world ; for his naturally 


indolent disposition rendered him unwilling to do any- 
thing, and as there was no necessity for him to work, 
he led an utterly idle, profitless life. Happily he had 
had excellent principles instilled into him by a judicious 
mother, so that he did not occupy himself in wrong 
doing beyond the fact that waste of time and talentr 
must be necessarily wrong, as his uncle often endea 
voured to show him. But as yet he could not be per. 
suaded that there was any necessity for him to make 
work, and therefore Helena's energy, and enthusiasm, 
and self-constituted employment proved great amuse- 
ment to him in his visits to his uncle, and a never-ending 
subject for a laugh against his cousin. 

" About this beauty, Helena," said Leslie, after the 
servant had removed the tea, and Helena had during 
fche time been gazing from the window. 

" She is the lady about whom I have been interested 
so long, and whom I had persuaded to take Belle Vue 
Cottage. She arrived to-day, and I assure you she is 
lovely. Mamma, you will call on her, will you not ?" 

" I don't know, my dear ; perhaps." 

" Oh ! mamma, do. I am sure she wants some kind, 
motherly person to comfort her. You don't know how 
much she has had to bear, such shameful ingratitude 
from every one." 

" From every one ?" asked Mr. Leslie. 

" Yes, from every one ; people for whom she has 
done the kindest acts have used her cruelly." 

" I suppose she tells you all this herself, Helena," 
said her father. 

"Yes, papa; but you know Lady Warrington told 
me all about her first ; I met her there, you know." 

" Ah ! that visit had better never have been paid." 


"Why, papa?" 

" Never mind, it is useless talking now, but try and 
moderate your transport about this injured lady until 
you know a little more of her. I have very little faith 
in a * victim/ my dear. Love begets love, and the in- 
stances are very rare in which a person who has served 
others well is not served well in return." 

" Well, papa, you only talk to her, that is all ; if you 
do not then believe me and her, I shall be astonished, 
Why do you sit there smiling so provokingly, Walter ? 5> 

" May I not smile ?" 

" You may of course, but I would rather you did 
not when I know you are smiling at me, or rather my 

" You are not assured that I am doing so. I may 
have thoughts which excite my merriment." 

" Ah ! I know exactly what those thoughts are, 
because you do not believe in anything or anybody." 

" Oh ! Helena, what a sweeping accusation. Will 
you have a game ftt chess with me after that ?" 

" Yes, if you like ; but you will beat me, for my 
head is full of thoughts and plans, and I shall not know 
a queen's move from a knight's." 

" We will try at any rate," he said, rising and 
placing the table. 

" Did you see Betty Hooker to-day, Helena ?" 

" No, mamma, I had not time. I meant to do so, 
coming home, but I was late, and came back without 

" Oh ! I thought it was important that you should 
see her every day," said her mother, smiling. 

Helena blushed as she answered. 

" Yes, mamma, and I have seen her every day sinco 


I told yon so, and she is much happier and calmer ; Mr. 
Lee says so." 

" Then yon think she'll do, Helena, eh ?" said her 

" Check to yonr queen." 

" Yes, of course," answered Helena, impatiently ; " if 
papa and mamma will persist in talking to me, how can 
I play ?" 

" Oh ! we wont say another word, then. Why are 
you stitching so, my dear, must that work be done 
to-night ?" 

" Well, I must get on with it ; for we are getting 
quite short of table linen really, and I want three new 
cloths made so much." 

" Ah ! if we had a daughter now who could work, 
she might help you." 

" Helena is overpowered with work. She is cloth- 
ing a whole family, I believe. Look at her work 
basket," and her mother pointed to a standard gilt 
basket in one corner of the room, which was filled with 
print, shirts, calico, etc. 

" Oh, then mamma works for the house, and her 
daughter for the parish." 

" Papa, you said you wouldn't." 

" My dear girl, I was not speaking to you." 

"No, but of me, and that is quite as bad; then 
checkmate of course, I knew I could not play," au<J 
rising from the chess-table Helena refused to touch 
another piece. 

u Then sing to us, will you not ? " asked Leslie. 

"No, I cannot do that, I must try to work; as 
mamma says, I am overpowered with it." 

" Leslie, let you and me issue a protest against work 


in the evening, eh? I think the ladies are bound to 
amuse us then," said Mr. Foster. 

" Unquestionably, sir," replied Leslie. 

" Mamma, set the example ; put away that odiou 3 

" Oh ! dear George, do not ask me to-night," said his 
wife pleadingly ; " I do so want to get on with this." 

"Well then, the rule commences to-morrow night. 
And see, Helena," said her father with more rebuke m 
his manner than was usual to him, "you assist your 
mother to finish that work, as it seems it is wanted." 

" Mamma could send it to the school and have it 
done there, papa ; but she won't." 

" Because, my love, they really don't work well 
enough ; but, never mind, I shall get it done somehow." 

" That flaimel stuff too, Helena, is not drawing-room 
work. No more of that in the evening, remember, after 
this evening." 

" Now, Leslie, suppose you and I try to amuse each 
other ; come, what shall it be, a game at cribbage, or 
chess, or what ? " 

"As you please, sir, I am at your service." 

" Well, then, suppose we try a game at cribbage." 

Leslie rose and got the cards, and the gentlemen 
omused themselves in this manner until bedtime, whilst 
the ladies stitched in silence, each occupied with her 
own thoughts. On separating for the night, as Mr. 
Foster kissed Helena, he said in a low voice, " My child, 
do not let me have to remind you again, that you must 
assist your mother with that work she wishes to havo 
finished. Do not let the loss of poor Maria be recalled 
so painfully to her recollection by tl e remembrance of 
how useful she used to be." 


Tears rose to Helena's eyes, but they were not of 
sorrow ; she thought her father unjust, and without 
seeing Mr. Leslie's hand outstretched towards her, wait- 
ing to wish her good-night, she hurried out of the room 
to the refuge of her own. The next morning, imme- 
diately after breakfast, her mother met her on the stairs 
dressed to go out. 

" Where are you going, Helena ?" she asked. 

" Down to Belle Vue, mamma, just to see how Mrs. 
Hamilton is getting on, and if I can do anything for 

" Is that necessary ?" 

" I think it is kind to a stranger, mamma, whom I 
have induced to come here." 

" Very well, only remember we lunch at one to-day, 
and the boys go back to school on Monday ; and require 
all their things looked over. I think you ought to 

" Well of course, mamma, if you desire me, but really 
I do not know why Esther cannot do it. I can't think 
what she's kept for." 

" My dear, Esther has plenty of house-work to do ; 
and besides, I think so little as we see of the boys, the 
least we can do when they are at home is to see they are 
comfortable, and that all their clothes are in order, and 
they have all they want to take back with them. Esther 
would not know what they require, nor how to arrange 
it all without me, and it would be only hindering her 
%r nothing." 

" I should have thought she might have helped you 
as well as I." 

" Oh ! very well, my dear, so she shall if you would 
rather not;" and her eyes filling with tears, the mother 


on, on her way up-stairs, but Helena had no 
wish really to grieve her, she loved her too much for 
that ; and, hastening after her, she threw her arms round 
her, and, kissing her warmly, said, " Dear, dear mamma, 
I won't be gone long, and then I'll come and work like 
a nigger." 

"Very well, love, run away ;" but the poor mother 
sighed as the recollection of a small pale face rose before 
her with her nimble fingers and useful, thoughtful head. 
Always at hand when she was wanted ; always ready to 
give up her own wishes to others, sweet Maria, she 
was gone to reap the reward of her labours, of her love 
and unselfishness in a land where there was no sorrow 
nor care, only love in all its fulness to satisfy and make 
her happy. And Helena went on her way not quite so 
cheerfully as she had thought to do ; that troublesome 
little monitor conscience kept whispering disagreeable 
things, and making itself a very unpleasant walking 
companion ; so that she was glad when her walk ended, 
and she arrived at Bellevue Cottage. 

The woman of the house who answered the door to 
her said Mrs. Hamilton had not left her room, but she 
would say Miss Foster had called if she would step in. 

Helena remained a long time in the little sitting-room 
alone, and at length Mrs. Hamilton's own maid, a very- 
elegant young lady, came to say that if Miss Foster 
would not object, Mrs. Hamilton would like to see her 
up-stairs. Accordingly she followed the aforesaid ele- 
gant young lady to her mistress's room. 

" Ah ! my darling girl, how good of you to come to 
me," was the salutation of the extremely beautiful 
woman who, in a very becoming white muslin wrapper, 
richly trimmed with Valenciennes lace, was lying on a 


conch by the open window, with a small round table besido 
her, on which was a little breakfast service of Sevres china, 
for one person, called a solitaire, and a vase filled with 
flowers. Her beautiful hair, of a rich auburn brown, 
was plainly braided and rolled up in a massive coil 
behind, and a small fichu of point-lace was over her 
head fastened under the chin with a brooch formed of a 
leaf of green enamel, on which rested a diamond fly. 

" Put a chair for Miss Foster, Rawlings, and 1 will 
ring when I want you," she said ; and with a smile of 
ineffable sweetness she took Helena's hand between her 
own delicate white ones. " I have had such a night, 
love ; scarcely closed my eyes, and, when I did, only to 
dream of horrors ; and I fear this house is damp, for I 
have had neuralgia in my face so fearfully ; about two 
I dropped asleep, and was woke with the excruciating 
pain. I have had the old lady up this morning Mrs. 
What's-her-name, Cramp and she assures me as ' 'o\v 
no one as never complained of the 'ouse being damp ; 
and has for the beds, she may say she's more than 
particular.' So I suppose I must try and imagine it is 
all right." 

" Oh ! I do hope it is not damp, dear Mrs. Hamil- 
ton ; and I think it cannot be, it is in such a dry situa- 
tion. It has not been very long unlet, and they were a 
largo family who had it last, filling every room in it." 

" Do you know, love, I thought there had been e 
large family in it, it smelt so stuffy when I first came 
into it ; and the papers are so dirty. I must talk to the 
old dame, if I stay, about papering the rooms I use. 
I have such a horror of dirty paper." 

" Then you don't like it, I fear," said Helena, in a 
disappointed voice. 


M Oh ! yes, I do, dear, very well indeed. Ycra 
know I am an awful fidget; but when one has lived 
in the height of luxury for years, one feels so pain- 
fully all that jars on feelings which have grown over- 
refined. But I must get used to it, and I shall in 
time. This, you see," she continued, pointing to the 
little breakfast- service, " is a remnant of old times. I 
carry this with me wherever I go." 

" It is very lovely," said Helena. 

"Yes, I bought it myself, in my brief reign of hap- 
piness, when I thought men and women were what they 
seemed, and life one bright, long holiday ; but I have 
learnt a different lesson now how false are all human 
beings, and what a weary, disappointing thing life is. 
A letter has followed me here already, to worry me, and 
prevent my spending in peace even the first day in my 
new home. There, read it. It is from a woman to 
whom, when trouble and sorrow surrounded her, I gave 
the shelter of a home. You will scarcely credit it." 

Helena took the proffered letter, and read as fol- 
lows : 

" MADAM, I regret the necessity which compels me 
to say, that unless your small account is paid by the 
18th inst., I must put the matter out of my hands. 
Payment by return will avoid all disagreeables. 


" What do you think of that ? That woman, my 
dear child, is a milliner in London, who was at one time 
in the most abject distress. I paid her half-year's rent 
in advance, besides the balance she owed, for which 
they were threatening to turn her out of hodse and 


home, and took her little sickly child, dying almost for 
want of good food and care, into my house, where I 
kept her till she was strong and rosy, got several of 
the most fashionable women in town to employ the 
mother, for she was very clever, till finally her busi- 
ness so increased as to enable her to take a house in 
the best part of London. And this is the way she 
repays me, harassing me for her paltry bill. But 
I will pay it, and, of course, never enter her doors 

" It does seem very ungrateful," said Helena, scarcely 
knowing what to say, for she was a little disturbed at 
the idea of her new friend having debts, so strictly had 
she been brought up herself in that particular; and 
though always well supplied with money by her indul- 
gent father, never permitted to incur a debt, or buy 
anything she could not afford to pay for. 

" Ah ! my dear," replied Mrs. Hamilton, " I am used 
to it ; but to think that I, who once had thousands at 
my command, should now be harassed and worried by 
having to pay a paltry bill of a few pounds. Oh ! my 
child, never marry, or, if you do, beware that your 
husband is not an extravagant spendthrift, who, squander- 
ing all your money, will laugh in your face, and tell you 
it became his when he married you." A knock at the 
door interrupted her conversation. 

" Come in," she said ; and the woman of the house, 
Mrs. Cramp, entered. 

" Oh ! if you please, ma'am, and bogging your par- 
don, but has you hany horders for the butcher." Mrs. 
Gramp, whenever she addressed ladies, was most par- 
ticular in aspirating every word that she possibly could ; 
for it appeared to her to have a more genteel sound- 


" The butcher ! Oh ! no, Mrs. Cramp ; I cannot 
pat meat. I suppose poultry is to be had here ?" 

" Yes, ma'am, hof course, but jcist now main dear; 
they was hasking six shillings a couple for chicken 
yesterday, which his dearer than I have hever remarked 
it since I have been in this place." 

" I don't mind if they are good ; I shall only trouble 
the butcher for some meat for soup, that is, if you are a 
good hand at soup, Mrs. Cramp ; but I am very par- 

"Well, ma'am, I don't know has I ham much of 
what you call a hexperienced hand " 

" That is awkward ; but is there no pastry-cook 
near the place ?" 

" In the next town, ma'am, a hexcellent one/ 5 

" Then I can send for soup, Mrs. Cramp, and save 
you the trouble ; dismiss the butcher." And, as Mrs. 
Cramp left the room, deeply impressed with the grandeur 
of the lodger, who thought nothing of giving six shil- 
lings a couple for chickens, and would send four miles 
for her soup, Mrs. Hamilton turned with her sweet 
smile to Helena, and said, " I have a painfully fastidious 
appetite, and cannot eat anything badly cooked." 

Helena found it difficult to answer just then, for the 
thought would obtrude itself that, if Mrs. Hamilton 
found so much difficulty in paying a milliner's bill, 
there was some inconsistency in ordering such an ex- 
pensive dinner. Helena fancied she should, if placed in 
the same circumstances, have tried to content herself 
with a mutton chop. 

" You will dine with me to-day, there's a nice child, 
won't you?" continued her friend, without remarking 
Helena's silence. 


"I do not think I can to-day, thank yon; mamma 
rather wants me." 

" Oh ! ask her to spare yon to me this one day ; she 
has r hnsband, and boys, and all home ties ; I have 
nothing. I shall dine at six, so yon can run home, and 
come back again to me." 

u Then I had better go at once, and make myself 
useful while I can." 

" Oh, no ! not just this moment yon are only just 
come ; you do not know how sweet it is to look at a dear 
young face ; I can fancy that like you would have been 
my Erameline, if she had been spared me, but even 
Heaven seems to have been hard to me. When my 
cruel husband, having ill-used me and spent my money, 
departed, and I was left with my pretty little girl, 
I thought I had expiated my sin in marrying such 
a man by all the sufferings I had borne, and that my 
life was to be at last a peaceful one. In bringing up 
and educating my darling I hoped quietly to pass my 
life, away from the world and its vain follies and 
pleasures ; but only a few bright months elapsed, and she, 
my darling, was taken from me ; the sweet eyes, that 
were the only ones which ever looked lovingly at me 
were closed for ever, and I was alone in the world oh ! 
how alone none can tell but those who have lost their 
all, as I have ;" and, as she spoke the last words, tears 
streamed from her lovely eyes, and sobs seemed to 
choke her utterance. Helena rose from her seat, and 
knelt down beside her, kissing tenderly the white hands 
which were clasped together in anguish ; mentally deter- 
mining that nothing should or could make her doubt, or 
cease to live and be the slave, if she wished it, of this 
beautiful and persecuted being. It wanted but a 


quarter to one when Helena at length left the cottage. 
Just as she shut the gate she was met loy old Mr. Lee, 
the vicar of the parish. 

" Good morning, Miss Foster, have you been to see 
my new parishioner ? I am on the same errand." 

" I am so glad, Mr. Lee ; I am sure she wants friends 
to comfort her, and I know she will be pleased to see 

" I will go and see what I can do then ; and how is 
Betty Hooker? I have not seen her the last day or 

"Nor I," answered Helena, blushing deeply as she 
spoke ; " I have been so much occupied." 

" All right," interrupted Mr. Lee, kindly noticing 
her confusion ; " your first duty is at home. If you can, 
like a good little girl, give any spare time to be my 
curate," he said, smiling, " I am very glad, but you 
must not be distressed when you cannot. Good day, I 
shall look in on Betty myself presently ;" and, before 
Helena had time to say more, he was gone ; but his 
words somehow rang in her ears, " Your first duty is at 
home." The church clock struck one as she passed it ; 
she hurried on her mother had warned her that 
luncheon would be at one. She should be late again, and 
then she remembered it was Wednesday the day in 
the week when she always took a class in the school. 
Well, it was too late now ; she must get home, and take 
her class in the afternoon. 

Just before reaching her own house, she was saluted 
with a wonderful " bob " from a girl about fifteen, in the 
dirtiest and raggedest of gowns, and a dirty straw bon- 
net to match, in which were some faded flowers. 

She felt compelled to stop and address her. 


" Amelia, is that the new dress I gave yon such a 
little while ago ?" 

Something like a blush covered the girl's dirty face, 
as she answered 

" Oh, if you please, miss, I couldn't stay in that place 
you got me ; it was so 'ard, it hurted my back, and so I 

coined home, and I've been a working for mother, and 
mucking about since." 

" That you have been making yourself filthily dirty 
there is no question, Amelia, and I shall do nothing more 
for you, nor recommend you to any other place. I be- 


lieve, if the troth was told, yon have been sent away for 
being dirty." 

The girl made no answer ; and as Helena was in a 
hurry, she only said, " I shall call and see your 
mother about you," and hurried on her way, but 
it was twenty minutes past one before she reached 

She opened the door, and flew up- stairs to take her 
things off. As she passed the dining-room, the door of 
which was open, she saw there was no one there, and so 
hoped that in spite of all, she should be nearly as soon 
as the rest. The next room to hers was occupied by 
her brothers, and she thought she heard some talking- 
there, and opening the door to ask if they were ready 
for luncheon, an exclamation of terror and distress 
escaped from, her as she saw her brother Arthur ex- 
tended on the bed, deathly white, and apparently lifeless, 
with his mother and father beside him, and her younger 
brother standing at the foot of the bed. 

" Oh, here is Helena," said her mother ; and at the 
sound the boy opened his eyes, and smiled faintly, re- 
lieving Helena's mind with the knowledge that he was 
still living, and that the ghastly hue of his face was 
taintness, and not death. 

" What is the matter, dear mamma ?" asked Helena, 

" Your brother has had a fall from a tree, and broken 
his arm, love, but papa has set it, and I hope he will do 
very well presently ; he is faint now, but he will be better 
soon, won't you, my boy ?" and the mother stooped 
down, and kissed the boy's white cheek. 

"Yes," said his father, who had been feeling his 
pulse, and looked agitated and upset himself, " he will 


do presently. Give him half a glass of wine, and let 
him be quite quiefc with only one person." 

" I will stay with him," said his mother. "Yes, I would 
rather, dear," she persisted; "you can send me some 
luncheon up here." 

" Well, you shall stay for the present, but you are not 
to remain here all day ; Helena must relieve guard," said 
Dr. Foster. 

" Oh, yes, of course. Poor Arthur !" and Helena 
went up and kissed her brother gently. 

"I will stay now, if mamma will let me." 

"No ; in an hour's time we shall see how he is," said 
her father. " Let mamma stay." 

" Quiet is indispensable. Leave ine alone with him 
now, dear, and I will be sure to ring if I want anything ;" 
and so they left the mother in that post which, alas ! was 
a natural one to her, watching by a child's sick bed. 

Oh ! how can children sufficiently love and repay 
their parents for their love and devotion to them ; and 
yet, how often are the little acts of self-denial, the little 
giving up of their own whims and fancies, which are 
not in accordance with their father's and mother's, sub- 
jects for gloomy looks and discontented murmurs ; how 
little remembered the long years of self-devotion which 
the mother has gone through for them, the setting aside 
her own ease and comfort, and amusement, to minister 
to their wants, to multiply their enjoyments. Surely, 
it is but small payment to give up cheerfully some 
matter which can be of no real moment, especially as 
it is very rare but that the opposition is given for ail 
excellent reason, and because in some way or other it 
will militate against the good or happiness of the child 
himself. As Helena went to h^r own room to prepara 


for luncheon, some thought of this kind crossed her 
mind. Could she ask leave to dir.e at Mrs. Hamilton's, 
now, with this trouble in the house? and yet, how 
dreadfully disappointed her friend would be. What was 
to be done ? She certainly must send her a note, and 
say she could not possibly come, and send her some 
books to read, to amuoe her long 1 evening. Accordingly, 
immediately after luncheon, she despatched Esther with 
her Kttle note, and a bundle of books, and went up to 
take her turn by her brother. He was asleep, so Mrs. 
Foster, who had of course been much alarmed at the 
accident, and being anything but strong, thought it better 
to allow Helena to take her place, while she went to lie 
down in the quiet of her own room, particularly as she 
intended to sit up with the boy in case of fever coming 
on. As Helena sat there, her class at school suddenly 
occurred to her; they would be all waiting, doing nothing, 
for she had told the mistress that if she did not come in 
the morning she should be sure to be there in ihe after- 
noon, and the children were not to be employed on any- 
thing else. She must send, but whom ? Esther was gone 
to Mrs. Hamilton's ; could her brother George go ? and 
dare she leave Arthur whilst she went to ask ? She 
would not be gone a moment ; if she could not find him. 
she would return, and the children must take their 
chance. It was the first time she had failed since she 
had undertaken it, surely no one could blame her ; so 
opening the door very softly, she crept gently, but 
quickly down stairs, and looked into a small room, given 
up for the boys to amuse themselves in when they were 
at home, with turning lathe, etc. ; but no George was 
there. Quickly she hurried through the glass doors which 
led into the garden to the stable-yard, he might be there 


feeding his dog ; but no, lie was not there. The boy 
employed in the garden was weeding a path close by 
the yard, she would send him. Running quickly to 
him, she said, "John, go instantly to the school, and tell 
Mrs. Marty n Master Arthur has met with an accident, 
and I can't come to-day. She must give the girls in my 
class something to do." 

" Master said as I was to bide here, Miss, as mayhap 
he should want me by and by, arid I wasn't to be out 
of call." 

" But somebody must go, John, and I have no one 
else to send ; if you can find Master George it will do 
as well, but one of you must go. I cannot stay a 
minute, I am watching Master Arthur. Oh! there is 
George, I will send him myself, never mind John," and 
flying up the garden path, she called her brother eagerly; 
he turned as he heard his name, and came back to meet 
her. She told him what she wanted. 

"I do not know if I can go, really," he said. " Papa 
has just said he has important business at Westrop, and 
as he does not want to be gone long he shall drive, and 
I am to go with him to see to the pony, while he is 
engaged. I don't like to be out of the way when he 
wants me." 

"Papa seems to have employed everybody," said 
Helena impatiently ; " John says he cannot go, because 
his master said he might want him. He can't want you 

" I don't know anything about that, but I certainly 
should not like him to be calling me about the place, 
just as he is ready to start, and I not to be found." 

" It wouldn't take you five minutes ; you might 
run, George." 


" Well, look here," said George, calling after her as 
she was turning disappointedly away, " I'll find pa, and 
ask him how long he'll be before he's ready, and then, 
; there's time, I'll go, or get his leave to send John." 

Compelled to be content with her brother's sug- 
gestion, Helena returned to the house, and just as she 
entered it she met Esther, bearing in her hand a 
strongly-perfumed note from Mrs. Hamilton. 

" Oh, you need not have waited for an answer, 
Esther. Did you see her ?" 

" No, miss ; you did not say I was not to wait ; but 
I thought I had better, and Mrs. Hamilton sent down 
word if I would sit down she would write." 

Slowly ascending the stairs, reading her letter as 
she went, Helena returned to her brother's room. It 
ran as follows : 

" MY PRETTY OXE, I am so sorry not to see you, and 
grieved for the cause. I trust the poor boy will go on 
well, that I may not long be deprived of the sunshine of 
your presence. Remember, I have nothing else in the 
world to love or value. You must try and come to me 
to-morrow, if only for ten minutes ; even with his broken 
arm I envy your brother. He has a loving father and 
mother to watch beside him, to cheer him with loving 
words and looks ; with me the weary days go on, and 
greedy hirelings, serving me for what they can get out of 
me, are all I see. Your innocent love is the first 
gleam of sunshine which has shone on my path for 
years ; the clouds must not long hide it ; but I am 
sure you will come as soon as you can to your most 
affectionate "A. H." 

As she raised her head from the letter to open softly 
the door of her brother's room, she saw it was open 


and her father was standing there with a grave and 
serious face." 

" Really, Helena, I could scarcely have expected this 
of you, that you could not even stay a little while with 
your brother." 

" Papa, I have not been gone ten minutes, and he 
was asleep when I went down." 

" Yes, and woke of course meanwhile, and could no\. 
get the drink he wanted for his poor parched mouth, 
because his nurse was absent. You might have had the 
thought, at least, to ring for a servant to remain with 
him till your return." 

"Never mind, father dear," said the poor boy 
kindly, seeing his sister's look of distress, "I am all 
right now ; and I do not at all mind being alone, if 
Helena will put the things in my reach that I want." 

" I do not wish to leave you any more, Arthur dear ; 
I only went to send a message up the street." 

" Then now oblige me, Helena, by not leaving him 
any more till his mother returns to him," said her 
father. " I suppose some parish business called you 
away. I must have a stop put to this nonsense." 

And so saying, Dr. Foster walked out of the room, 
and Helena sat down where her brother could not see 
her face, and indulged herself with what is commonly 
called " a good cry," she felt so hardly used. She who 
was always trying to be useful, was always getting 
scolded and rebuked for what she was sure most persons 
would consider quite exemplary. Instead of leading a 
life of young lady idleness, she was always employed 
in works of charity teaching in the schools, working 
for the poor, reading to the old women, and getting 
places for the young. But " never mind," she thought, 


as the tears, in spite of her efforts now to stop them, 
coursed each other down her cheeks. Everything good 
in this world met with opposition, and the more merit 
rt was in her to persevere. The right road was always 
a difficult one, and so she would go on, hoping that at 
last her reward would come. 

" Helena, are you crying ?" at length her brother 
asked, for he fancied that he heard a low sob. "~Whnt 
is the matter?" 

Drying her eyes, Helena rose, and went to him. 

" Nothing much ; I only thought papa unjust. 
Don't mind me ; go to sleep again, Arthur dear. Shall 
I read to you ?" 

" Thank you, I think I should like that. I had just 
begun 'Mary of Burgundy;' it seems such a jolly book. 
It's on there," he said, pointing to the chest of drawers. 
:; But don't be unhappy, papa often speaks sharply ; 
but he doesn't mean anything, and he was worried 
about me." 

" Oh, it's all over now ; it was only for the moment." 
And Helena got the book, and sat down by her brother 
to read. 

She had not read many pages before he was again 
asleep, and putting down her book, Helena stole softly 
to the window, and put her head out to breathe the 
soft, pleasant summer air. 

This room looked out on the pretty garden, over 
the lawn bright with clumps of flowers arranged in 
rustic baskets, divided by a "ha-ha" from the green 
meadow beyond, across which a path lay to the village, 
the old ivied tower of the church soaring above the 
trecr, showing in which direction the village lay. Be- 
yond were ranges of hills, nestled by the sides of which 


were ofclier sung villages and homesteads ; and on clear 
evenings the towers of the grand old cathedral could 
be seen, telling of the far-off town, with all its hurry, 
and business, and excitement, so contrasted with the 
quiet monotony of the neighbouring villages. 

Helena leaned out, looking at all this, hearing the 
pleasant sound of children's voices in the distant village 
street, and the lowing of cattle, and loud cackling of 
poultry from a neighbouring farm ; but her thoughts 
were not with these peaceful sights and sounds. She 
had not got over her grievance the feeling that her 
father had wronged her, and been unjust to her. Her 
name called softly below the window first aroused her; 
she looked down ; it was Walter. 

" How is Arthur? Is he Asleep ?" he asked. 

"Yes he is," she answered, in the same low tone. 
" You have heard of his accident." 

" I have ; I am very sorry, but boys must go 
through this sort of thing. I believe it is part of then- 
education. I have seen your idol ; that is what I wanted 
to tell you." 

"My idol! who do you mean?" said Helena, 

" Why, the beauty. I met a good-looking stranger, 
most extensively got up, followed by a little white fluffy 
dog, and she went into Bellevue Cottage, so it must 
have been your friend." 

" Oh yes, I daresay it was ; but I do not own to an 
4 idol,' Walter.'* 

" Don't you ? very well. Are you going to remain 
up there ?" 

" Yes, till mamma comes. Hush ! he's waking :" 
and, leaving the window, she went to her brother's bed* 


side. He had again awoke, for his arm was too painful 
to allow of more than an uneasy doze. 

Helena asked if she should read again, and her 
brother saying he should much like it, she had just 
recommenced, when a knock at the door interrupted 
her. It was Esther, to say that a woman of the name 
of Bradley wanted to see her, and would not send up 
her message. 

" Then you must stay, please, Esther, with Master 
Arthur whilst I go down." 

" Yes, Miss, certainly." 

"I will be as quick as I can, Arthur, darling," and 
Helena ran rapidly down-stairs to the hall, where a 
slovenly woman stood waiting to see her. 

"What can I do for you, Mrs. Bradley?" asked 

" Why, Miss, Melia says as you met her down street 
this morning, and went on at her sheamful about her 
frock being wor out, and that you'd never do no more 
for her, and a lot ; so I thought I'd come down and 
hear the rights on't. My girl isn't no worse than others, 
as I know, and sure it ain't no blame to her to help her 
own mother. And for working about, and having only 
one frock to her back, I don't see as how, considering 
the time she's had it, you could expect it to look any 

" Mrs. Bradley, I gave Amelia that frock to go to 
service with for a Sunday one, she said she had one for 
every day, and I am sure had she taken proper care of it, 
it would have been quite decent still ; if the place was too 
hard for her, she might have come and told me so, and 
laid by her frock until she got a new sifc nation. Now, 
if she had a place to-morrow, she isn't fit to go." 


" But her other frocks, which was very ornary when 
she took 'em, is wore completely out, she'd such a deal 
of hard, dirty work to do, and so she's been obliged to 
take this for week-a-days and Sundays. That's just 
how such as we gets used. The ladies give one frock 
or one pair of shoes to them as had none before, 
and then wonder, two months after, they ain't as 
good as new, when all along they've had nought else 
to wear." 

" A little management, Mrs. Bradley, might make 
frhem wear better, that's all we say, but it's no use 
your losing your temper," said Helena, fast incurring the 
same loss herself; "for I persist in what I say, that 
Amelia has used her frock very badly ; that she ought 
to have stayed in her place, and that I will have nothing 
more to do with her. Good day, I can hear no more." 
And she hurried away, waiting for no reply, for the 
sound of wheels in the drive warned her of her father's 
approach, and she dreaded his finding her engaged 
again in "parish business," and away from the sick- 
room, although this time she had left some one in 

Poor Helena ! her troubles increased, for this woman 
she had taken up against the advice of many, who had 
told her she was hopelessly thriftless and dirty, and one 
}f those persons whom no one could help, and as she 
went up to her brother's room, she could not avoid 
thinking of her father's words, "he had no faith in a 
victim." She had befriended her because the woman 
had told her every one was against her, and now it was 
dawning on her that " the world's verdict" was not so 
unjust a one as she had deemed it. 

She had scarcely resumed her place by her brother, 


when Esther came up again, and said the Miss Mantles* 
vanted to know if she was going to the Dorcas meeting 
that evening, and if she would call for them as she 
went along. 

" Oh, Esther, I can't possibly go, I forgot all about 
it j but you must tell them about Master Arthur, and 
say I cannot leave." 

" Don't mind me, if you want to go, Helena," said 
Arthur; " dear mamma will be at home." 

" No, I should not think of being out to-night, 
Arthur dear, thank you. No, give them thai: message, 
Esther." And as the servant went to do her bidding, 
Helena felt so thankful that she had refused to dine with 
Mrs. Hamilton, and had such a much more laudable 
excuse for not attending the meeting than that she had 
forgotten it. Still she could not help acknowledging 
to herself that had she not refused the dinner invitation 
she should have liked to have gone to the meeting, and 
was extremely annoyed that she could not. She had first 
proposed that a number of young ladies should meet at 
each others' houses once a week to work for the poor, 
and was therefore looked upon as manager and direc- 
tress, a post the little lady greatly admired, and it was 
very vexatious to feel that some one else would this 
evening be taking the lead. Engrossed in these thoughts, 
she did not hear her brother call her in a low voice, and 
ko her alarm, as a low moan struck at last on her inat- 
tentive ear, she saw that he had fainted, and she flew to 
her mother's room, and called her hurriedly, but it was 
some time before their united exertions could restore 

"What caused him to faint?" asked her mother; 
"was he trying to move himself?" 


" I don't know, mamma, I think not." 

" Did he complain of faintness, or go off suddenly ?" 

" Quite suddenly," said Helena. 

"No, I felt faint a long time first, and called you 
several times," said poor Arthur. 

" Oh, Arthur, dearest, did you really ? I am sorry 
indeed I never heard you." 

" Well, never mind, love," said her mother, kissing 
him gently, " I am come now, and shall leave you no 
more till you are much better. J shall hear you." 

Tears of vexation filled Helena's eyes, and she 
turned away to conceal them. 

"You can go down now, if you wish, Helena," said 
her mother, as she established herself in the arm-chair 
near her son's bedside. 

" I do not wish to go, mamma," said Helena, in a 
sad voice. 

" Oh, yes, my dear," said her mother kindly, " sick- 
rooms are not pleasant for young people. Go, dear, to 
Walter and George ; I dare say they feel quite lonely 
without you." 

Helena rose, and without another word quietly left 
the room, but the feeling of being aggrieved was stronger 
than ever, and her heart turned with more love and 
gratitude to that sweet, affectionate Mrs. Hamilton, who 
thought everything she did right. 

She sauntered with a listless air into the drawing- 
room, hardly knowing in what way to employ herself. 
All seemed distasteful to her that she was accustomed 
to do. Her basket full of work, what was the use of 
finishing it ? It was no use, no one would thank her 
when it was done. Look at Mrs. Bradley, how she had 
behaved to her; and she remembered how she had toiled 


at that frock, putting away her drawing and all that 
amused her to get it finished. A low voice seemed 
at this moment to whisper in her ear, " and all that 
amused others was put aside too. The drawing which 
was to be a present to mamma, and the singing in the 
evening which so amused papa, the games with Mr. 
Leslie and her brothers, all were abandoned to make 
that frock;" and strangely mingled with this whisper 
were the words of Mr. Lee, " Your first duty is at 

" A penny for your thoughts" were the words which 
startled her from her reverie. 

" Mine are never worth purchase, Mr. Leslie ; and 
at that moment they were of no use to any one but the 
owner, and not much perhaps to her.*' 

" Thinking is a mistake, depend on it. What use is 
it ? If we think of the past, we cannot recall it if we 

" No, but it may teach us better for the future." 

" Well, there is something in that certainly ; but 
query, does it ever ? If we now were to take a great fancy 
to any one, and find out that they were everything that 
was bad, would the remembrance of that prevent our 
taking a fancy to any one again, or rather, make us 
more cautious as to whom we did make our bosom 

Helena looked up with a quick glance at Leslie. 

" What do you mean ?" 

" What I say," he answered, smiling, " as I always 

. " I don't quite understand you, but I think you had 
some meaning for your last speech." 

" Well, I kope I always have." 


" Now, don't be provoking, Walter. I mean I think 
you. were alluding to my interest in Mrs. Hamilton, but 
I can assure you it would take a great deal to persuade 
me that she could have the least shadow of bad about her ; 
and if I was once convinced she had, I would never 
love any one again. It would effectually break me 
of the folly, if it is one, of believing in any human 

" How old are you ?" said Leslie, smiling ; " a whole 
seventeen, are you not ?" 

" I do not see that that has anything to do with 
what we are saying, unless you mean that I am too 
young to know my own mind, but I am not." 

" And you have made up that said mind to believe 
implicitly in the perfect goodness of Mrs. Hamilton ?" 

" Yes, as far as human beings can be perfect 
Have papa and George come in ?" 

" I think not." 

" I fancied I heard them long ago." 

" It was a carriage," answered Leslie, " with some one 
to inquire after Arthur, I think. Oh ! dear me, I think 
living 's a very stupid affair," he continued, fling- 
ing himself on the couch. " There's nothing on earth 
to do." 

" Oh ! Walter, what a speech. There is plenty to 
do when one has the heart to do it, and men have always 
occupation, or can have." 

" Well, I don't know ; I have'nt the slightest idea 
how to employ myself; suggest something." 

" For the present, or for a permanency ?" 

" Either, or both." 

" Then if I were you I should make up my mind to 
? profession, and commence now to study for it." 


" Helena, do you call that helping a fellow out ? If 
I could choose a profession, I should be all right. The 
law is abominable, physic I detest, for divinity I am. not 
good enough. I have no wish to slaughter my fellow- 
creatures and become a soldier, or pass my life tossing 
about on the seas as a sailor ; and so, as I said before, I 
think living a stupid affair.'* 

" Oh ! you will not always think so, I hope. What 
does Longfellow say ? 

" ' Lives of great men all remind us 
We may make our lives sublime. ' 

Men have many a glorious opportunity of doing so. It 
is only we poor women folk who can do nothing that is 
grand or heroic." 

" What a mistake !" said a voice behind her; and 
starting round, Helena saw Mr. Lee, who had entered 
unobserved, and overheard her last speech. 
Helena, blushing and smiling, said 
" Oh ! Mr. Lee, how you startled me !" 
" You startled me with your assertion," he answered, 
smiling, and laying his hand kindly on her shining 
hair. " I think I could tell you many a tale of woman's 
heroism that would astonish you." 

" Could you, Mr. Lee ? A woman seems to have 
no opportunity of being heroic." 

" It depends greatly on what you call heroic. There 
is to me a greater and a truer heroism in the silent, 
patient, cheerful endurance of daily cares and trials, 
than in some fine act of bravery undertaken in a mo- 
ment of great excitement. But all this time I am 
not asking after poor Arthur, which was my object in 


" He seems in very much pain, thank you, and very 

" Poor boy ! But he'll be all right again, I hope, 

" Oh ! yes, sir," said Leslie. " I tell my cousin that 
such accidents are part of a boy's education, and fit 
him, no doubt, for that hero he is some day to be. 
Eh, Helena?" 

" Doubtless, Mr. Leslie," said Mr. Lee ; " and now 
I must tell yon," he continued, turning to Helena, 
*' that I paid my visit to your new friend, and found 
her a most elegant, agreeable person." 

" Yes, isn't she, sir ? and so lovely." 

"Yes, very handsome is more the word, I think." 

" Did she tell you of her troubles ?" 

" Oh ! yes ; she has been much ill-used, it seems, 
poor lady, and full of misfortunes ; but I trust they will 
all be for her good eventually ; trouble is intended so 
to be." 

Mr. Lee talked on for some time on this and other 
subjects, and then took his leave. He had not been 
gone long when a note was brought to Helena. The 
strong perfume told her in an instant that it was from 
Mrs. Hamilton. 

She opened it with a glance at her father, who had 
come in, and was seated in the arm-chair, reading the 
newspaper. It was only three lines : 

" Come to me directly. I must see you for a fev? 

She looked up at the timepiece on the mantelshelf ; 
it was just five They dined at six, and she had to 
dress ; but still she thought she could get as far as that 
and back in time. 


" Who is your note from, Helena ? " asked her father. 

" Mrs. Hamilton, papa. She wants to speak to me 
for a moment. I shall have time just to run, I think." 

" I don't know, I'm sure. I can only say I expect 
you to be in time for dinner." 

" Oh ! yes, papa, of course. I'll dress first, and then 
I shall be sure to be right." 

Dressing hurriedly, and throwing on a large cloak 
and hat, she flew up the little village street, and soon 
reached Bellevue Cottage. The door was open, so she 
entered, and passed quickly up the stairs to her friend's 
apartments, but paused suddenly, as a loud and angry 
voice met her ear, using violent invectives against some 
person or persons. Could that be the voice of her 
gentle, lovely, and persecuted friend ? Was it possible ! 
Another person was in conversation with her, for 
Helena could hear the much lower tones answering the 
excited ones. She knocked at the sitting-room door, 
but was obliged to repeat the knock twice before it was 
heard, and the answer given to " come in." 

Pacing up and down the small room, her face flushed 
and stained with tears, Helena saw her friend, and 
seated on the couch a woman plainly and neatly dressed, 
like a respectable servant ; but to Helena's fancy, even 
i'i that momentary glance, the expression of her face 
v as an evil one. 

Both stopped speaking as Helena entered; and Mrs. 
Hamilton, holding out her hand, said 

" Good child to come. I knew you would. I am full 
of trouble, and you must help me, if you can and will." 

"Most certainly I will, if I can." 

" Sit down and hear me. This good body," she 
said, pointing to her visitor, "was a maid of mine 


years ago, and lias been the only true friend I have ever 
known, though how long she will remain so there is no 

" Oh, madam," interrupted the woman, " I am 
sur " 

" Well, never mind your protestations now ; let me 
tell this dear child my new trouble This woman, Mrs 
Bolton by name, Helena love, has come from London, 
most kindly, to put me on my guard against a threat- 
ened misfortune. The fact is, I may as well at once tell 
you, my husband is not dead, as I led you to believe ; I 
wished it to be supposed so for many reasons not neces- 
sary to mention now. We agreed to separate to lead 
lives apart, for our tempers and dispositions were too ill 
assorted ever to be happy together ; but for the last two 
years he has taken it into his head that he would like 
me to return to him, but nothing will induce me to do 
so. I despise him beyond all created beings, and never 
will I live again under the same roof with him. Since 
I became aware of his wish I have changed my name, 
and kept my residence a secret from all but this faithful 
creature. Yesterday, by some means, he discovered her 
address, and sought to induce her to reveal mine. He 
had in some manner got information that I was in this 
county, but the name of the village he did not know, 
nor my assumed name ; still the fact that he is as near 
the truth as the county, terrifies me, and I cannot re- 
main here in peace another night. Now, my idea is to 
return to London ; but if I do so, how are my apart- 
ments here to be paid for. The paltry sum which he 
allows me, after spending all my own money, is not due 
for another six weeks. Now, could you, dear child, help 
me to pay it ? and I would sign a paper empowering 


yon to draw my quarter's money, pay yourself, and for- 
trard the balance to Mr. Bolton. 

Overpoweringly astounded at this unexpected reve- 
lation, Helena could scarcely collect her senses to reply ; 
to her innocent mind the whole thing seemed so terrible 
parted from her husband, her husband still living, 
when she had affirmed him dead ; speaking uf him whom 
she had sworn before God to love, honour, and obey, as 
the person whom she despised beyond all others on 
earth ; it seemed too dreadful, but at length she found 
words to say 

"* I do not know if I have montiy enough of my 

" But your father, my dear child, when he knows the 
circumstances of the case, will, I am sure, assist me. Go 
home and ask him, like a dear love, and be here again 
by nine to-morrow. I shall leave by the ten o'clock 
train. Oh, was there ever on earth a being so wretched ? 
Nowhere can I find peace;'' and flinging herself into a 
chair, she sobbed passionately. 

This was too much for Helena's kindly nature, and 
though the moment before she was going to say she 
dared not ask her father, she had not now the heart to 
do so, and going gently to her, she pressed her lips on 
her burning forehead, and said 

" Indeed, dear Mrs. Hamilton, I will do all I can for 
fou; I must go now, or papa will be waiting dinner; ~i 
will be here in time to-morrow." 

" God bless and thank you, darling," said Mrs. 
Hamilton, kissing her fondly, and then, more worried 
and disturbed than she had ever been in her young life 
before, Helena left the cottage. 

She was only just in time for dinner ; it was being 


placed on the table as she entered ; still she was there, 
and took her mother's vacant place at the head of the 
table. Very silent she was too all dinner her thoughts 
full of one unpleasant subject, the most harassing part 
being the dread of appealing to her father to lend the 
money, which, she felt almost sure, he would object to. 
As soon as dinner was ended, and she could get away 
from the room, she went to her own to see how large a 
sum she possessed. It was some time since she had 
looked into the little purse she kept for charitable 
purposes, and she hoped that with the money she had in 
hand she might manage to have enough to pay a week's 
lodging, if that was all. To her delight she found alto- 
gether she could collect three pounds ; so determining 
to take that with her in the morning when she went 
to her friend, she returned to the drawing-room, in much 
better spirits, though still afraid that her father would 
every minute ask her what Mrs. Hamilton wanted with 
her, and she felt most unwilling to mention the painful 
revelation she had heard ; but luckily her father seemed 
utterly to have forgotten tho subject, and shortly left the 
room, to sit with Arthur and mamma, he said, and that 
she must entertain "the boys." 

As soon as the door had closed on him, Leslie threw 
down the paper he was reading, and said 

" I have been thinking positively, although I only a 
few hours ago said it was a waste of time thinking of 
what yom said so much that I am actually going to- 
morrow to London to be useful to some one; very 
useful, I hope, and I trust that the sensation of being 
so will be so agreeable to me, that I shall endeavour for 
the future to be an active member of society, and not 
like 'dumb driven cattle,' but a hero in the strife. 


Shall you be proud of having first raised me from my 
indolence ?" 

" Very proud, Walter. I think every one can, and 
ought to be, useful in some way or other." 

" Exactly, and you would think it useful to open the 
eyes of a person to the demerits of another. I mean 
to prevent some one from being carried away by her 
warmth of feeling, to waste her affections on an unde- 
serving object/' 

Helena looked up quickly at him. 

" Yes, I should think it very useful, but what do you 

" I mean that in that manner I am about to make 
myself useful ; that I am going to spare no pains to 
prevent a warm-hearted, enthusiastic person involving 
herself in countless annoyances and difficulties through 
her misapprehension of the character of another." 

Helena made no answer, for she felt that she was 
aware of his meaning, and she was not so thoroughly 
prepared to defend her friend as before her last inter- 
view. At that moment George's request for some kind 
of amusement enabled her to drop the subject, and going 
to the piano, she played and sang to them for the rest 
of the evening. 

In the morning, when Esther came to call her, she 
told her that Arthur had passed a very bad night, and 
was very feverish, but that he was now dozing, and 
Mrs. Foster would rather she did not come in till she 
rang, for fear of waking him ; so dressing quickly, she 
thought she would at once go down to Bellevue, and be 
back in time for prayers and breakfast. 

Mrs. Hamilton was not up, Mrs. Cramp said, when 
Helena arrived, breathless with running, at the cottage : 


she would ask if she would see her, if Miss Leslie would 
walk in. Some time elapsed, and Helena sat on thorns, 
for no one knew at home where she was, and she dreaded 
being late. A.t length the maid came to request she would 
go up-stairs, where she found Mrs. Hamilton in bed, her 
beautiful hair tossed loosely on the pillow, her face flushed, 
and her eyes looking bright with fever. 

" Oh ! my dear child," she exclaimed, " I am so ill ; 
how I am to travel I know not. And yet I cannot rest 
here, go I must. Have you got the money ?" 

"1 have some," answered Helena; "how much do 
you want ?" 

"Well, not much. Now T think I ought to give 
this woman a fortnight's pay for the disappointment, 
that will be four guineas ; and then the little house- 
keeping will amount to a trifle more. She will tell you 
how much, if like a dear child you will go down and 
settle with her." 

"But the rooms were only hired by the week. I 
think she will be satisfied with a week's pay," said 
poor Helena ; " for I really have only three pounds I 
can lend you." 

" Oh ! my dear, I cannot be shabby to the woman. 
Have you asked your father to assist me ?" 

" No," answered Helena, blushing. " I did not 
think he would like it, and I preferred doing all I could 

" Surely he wouldn't have scrupled to lend me a 
paltry sovereign or two ; but I can manage with what 
you can do, I daresay. You say you have three pounds. 
Then here," she said, drawing a very handsome purse 
from under her pillow, " are three more. That will pay 
me out here, I hope, and leave me enough to get to 


London ; when there, that good Bolton will help me, 
nntil my grand quarter's allowance is due. Go down 
at once, and see the woman. I cannot go by the next 
train; I really am not well enough, but by the 12.20. 
Tell her I shall go. You must say, love, important 
business compels me to alter my mind, and return to 
London. Dear child, you are my guardian angel." 

Helena, not particularly relishing her commission, 
went, however, at once. As she expected, Mrs. Cramp 
was much disappointed, but was satisfied with the pay- 
ment, only she hoped the lady would pay for the papers 
she had ordered for the two rooms, having got them 
purposely for her, and she had requested they might be 
got at once, as she could not live in such rooms. She 
had asked to be allowed to choose the patterns, and had 
of course selected the most expensive, so that poor 
Helena found she had nothing remaining of the six 
pounds. Her only three were gone, all the money she 
had ; but still that was a thousand times better than 
asking her father. It was only her own inconvenience, 
and the loss of any little thing she might want to pur- 
chase between this and her next quarter ; and so she 
returned to her friend's room to wish her good-bye, and 
hurry home. She was just in time ; the prayer-bell was 
ringing as she entered the house. She flew up-stairs, 
threw her hat and cloak and empty purse on the bed, 
and with a sigh of relief descended to the dining-room. 
As she did so the thought suddenly occurred to her that 
she had received no paper empowering her to receive 
Mrs. Hamilton's money, and so pay herself, as she had 
proposed ; but still it was well she had not, for was it 
not like doubting her ? Of course she would repay her 
when she could ; so she was glad after all she had not 


got it, and satisfied herself with the thought that if she 
were never paid she had at least been of use to one who 
so much needed kindness. During breakfast she ma- 
naged to impart the news of Mrs. Hamilton's hasty 
resolve to leave for London, but she did not like to give 
the real reason, so evaded it by saying, " Family affairs 
obliged her." A strange smile passed ever Mr. Leslie's 
face as she spoke, and she noticed that he and her father 
exchanged glances. 

" I too, you know, am bound for London," he said. 
"Perhaps I may have the pleasure of travelling with 
your delightful friend." 

" Very possibly, if you go by the same train. Have 
you finished breakfast, papa?" she continued, anxioas 
to avoid any further conversation. 

" Yes, quite ; go and see how Arthur is now." 

" Is he awake ?" 

" Yes, the prayer-bell woke him. I forgot to forbid 
their ringing, foolishly." 

Helena left the room at once, glad to escape, and 
her father and Mr. Leslie remained in earnest con- 
versation, until it was time for the latter to betake him- 
self to the station. 

All that day Helena found it difficult to employ 
herself. It was a great blank to her, the absence of the 
person in whom she had so warmly interested herself. 
Her mother preferred nursing Arthur herself, so she had 
nothing to do in the sick-room, and at length she 
determined to go to the school and see how the mistress 
had managed with her class the day she was absent. 

On her way she met the Miss Mantles, who said they 
were just coming to see her; they had had a most 
successful meeting the other night, better than ever, 


and they were now out collecting subscriptions for 
material ; could she pay hers then, or should they call for 
it. Helena's colour mounted to her hair, she had utterly 
forgotten the subscription was due, and she had given 
her last penny to Mrs. Hamilton; however, she summoned 
courage to say it would be more convenient the following 
week, and that now she was in haste to get to school 
before it closed, and merely wished them good-bye. 

Just as she reached the school door, she met her 
father and Mr. Lee, arm-in-arm, and apparently in ear- 
nest conversation, but she took no particular notice of 
the occurrence, as she knew her father frequently gave 
his advice to Mr. Lee when he asked him, on matters 
connected with the health of the parish, and concluded 
it was some subject of draining or ventilation which 
now occupied them ; they nodded to her, and she passed 
on into the school. On her return home about an hour 
afterwards she again saw Mr. Lee, alone, about to enter 
their house. He stopped when he saw her, and said as 
she came up with him 

" I was coming to see you, are you going in ?" 

"Yes, I am," answered Helena, wonderingly. 

" I will follow you," and opening the gate for her to 
pass through, 'he followed her up the little drive to the 

She showed him into the dining-room, and handing 
her a chair he begged her to be seated, as he had a word 
or two to say to her. 

" I am afraid," he began, smiling kindly at her, "that 
I am going to make you think me very ungrateful. 
Since my ministration in this parish you have been 
most kind, and striven hard to assi*fc me in my labours, 
which I have deemed highly praiseworthy in so young 


a lady as yourself, and I am now about to ask you 
to discontinue them. Papa and I have been having a 
long talk, and he tells me that when I found a curate, he 
lost a daughter. Now, my dear child," continued the 
old man, " this must not be ; the old saying of ' Charity 
begins at home,' has a deep and serious meaning : the 
love and forbearance of that truly Christian virtue is to 
be shown most fully in our own homes, and there it 
must lead us to be useful, cheerful, and obedient ; ' believ- 
ing all things, enduring all things, hoping all things.' 
When every duty has been there fulfilled, it is a good 
and Christian duty to help and assist your poorer neigh- 
bours, but never must the one act of duty be done at 
the sacrifice of the other. You are very young, and 
your judgment is not sufficiently matured, nor your 
capability of arranging a variety of business great 
enough to enable you to do anything of great importance 
in a parish, and all that is required of you at home a,s 
well. You must try, my child, to content yourself with 
the duties which God has distinctly placed before you, 
and not make them for yourself ; as I said the other 
day, there are indeed quiet heroines in their peaceful 
homes, working for God and the cause of righteousness 
with more true zeal and devotion than those who busy 
themselves in the world, and whose good works are seen 
of man. The gratification of our own vanity too often 
leads us to occupy ourselves in matters which really do 
not need our assistance, to the neglect of those minor 
duties of which the world knows nothing, and which we 
should get no credit for ful filling. If when all that is 
required of you at home is done, you can find time to 
make a frock for some poor little child, or give an hour 
or two in the week to read to some poor ignorant or 


sightless old body, you will be doing real good, and as 
your amiable nature makes it a pleasant occupation to 
you, you will have the satisfaction of combining pleasure 
and duty ; but indeed, my dear young lady, I would re- 
commend your resolutely determining to fulfil all home 
duties first." 

As he paused, Helena thought for a reply ; she said 
in a low voice, " But I have no home duties : mamma 
does everything." 

" Exactly, but ought mamma to do everything ? For- 
give my plain speaking : should not a willing, loving 
little daughter take from mamma the burden of house- 
hold affairs, and, above all, home duties which lie so 
especially in a girl's province and which are so often 
neglected, helping to brighten the home and make it a 
happy one to all its members ? How often have I seenin the 
home circle, parents and brothers asking their girls to play 
or sing, and meeting always the unkind denial, when, had 
strangers been there, they would have taken the utmost 
pains to display their talents for the amusement of their 
visitors. Surely those who have paid for their children's 
education should be those the most to profit by it." 

"Do you think, then," said poor Helena, with diffi- 
culty restraining tears of vexation, " that I ought to 
give up my school class, and the Dorcas meeting, and 
the old women !" 

" I would give up all, certainly, that interfered with 
Lome. You see you are not called to this work ; you 
are not wife, daughter, or sister of a clergyman, and 
therefore it does not become part of your duty for 
which special time must be provided. If you have 
leisure, and it can be so profitably employed as in serv- 
ing others, no one for one moment would forbid itj 


only the higher claim of duty to your parents must first 
be attended to. I am always most unwilling to baulk 
good intentions, or throw cold water on any act of 
benevolence ; but if each individual in a parish would 
take care of those persons they employ, they would find 
enough to do themselves, and save the necessity for a 
great deal of work for others, and by confiding to the 
clergyman's care such money as they can afford to give 
away in alms, much encouragement of undeserving per- 
sons would be spared, and the worthy obtain, in con- 
sequence, more support. To administer assistance 
judiciously is, I assure you, one of the most difficult 
things to do, and wonderfully little understood by those 
most anxious to do it. Now I know I have distressed 
and disappointed you, and it is among a clergyman's 
many trying duties, that of rebuking ; but you know it 
is his duty, however unpleasant. I believe that you 
will, after I am gone, think kindly of what I have said, 
and perceive, however it may vex you now, with what 
affectionate interest in your well-being I have thus 
spoken to you. On considering the matter, I think you 
will find that you can manage still some of your self- 
imposed tasks, and not have to resign all which so 
interests you. Suppose you keep Betty Hooker, now," 
he said, smiling somewhat archly, as he knew the visi 
tations to the said Betty had been discontinued rather 
lately "a cheerful young face, with fresh, bright 
ideas, really is a benefit to her, with her gloomy, fretful 
disposition and your school class twice a week. I 
think your leisure will then be quite filled up, and you 
will give yourself time to be the sunshine of a home 
which God has seen fit to visit with many clouds. 
Now, I will say no more. You will not quite hate me, 


will you? But, forgive me if I have fulfilled my 
mission clumsily." 

Helena could not answer, but she shook the hand 
held out to her very heartily ; and when the door closed 
on the good vicar, flew to her own room to weep out 
there her sorrow and vexation. 

The following morning's post brought her a letter 
from Mrs. Hamilton, full of professions of affection, and 
how she missed her, etc. That good creature, Bolton, had 
procured charming apartments for her in the neighbour- 
hood of the Regent's Park, and where she hoped Helena, 
as soon as her brother was well, would come and cheer 
her solitude; but not one word of the three pounds. 
And with a sigh, Helena laid the letter down, and 
her thoughts recurred to what Leslie had said, and to the 
purpose of his journey to London. 

He returned by a late train that evening, but he 
made no mention of Mrs. Hamilton, neither did Helena. 
Her father had not alluded to Mr. Lee's visit, nor did 
she to him. She had, as he had said she would, thought 
over his conversation, and her conscience had borne such 
testimony to the truth of his words that she had resolved 
to take up a new course of action altogether, and during 
that day had busied herself about the house as she had 
never done before, and, moreover, taken up the table 
linen, which was laid aside when Arthur met with his 
accident, and worked at it so diligently as almost to 
finish it, besides sitting for two hours with Arthur whilst 
her mother lay down. The frocks and flannels she had 
been so busily engaged on for the poor she had packed 
up with a letter to Miss Mantle, offering them to her 
as her subscription to the Dorcas Society, and had 
requested her to undertake the management, as she 


could not herself be longer spared from home ; so that 
night Helena laid her head on her pillow in proud con- 
sciousness of having done her duty, and performed an 
act of self-sacrifice, which purchased for ^er that best of 
all rewards, a peaceful and satisfied conscience. 

The next morning Arthur was pronounced so much 
better that he might be allowed to come down ; and 

Helena worked with a good will, to have everything 
comfortable for his reception, fresh flowers cut, and 
everything looking a bright and cheerful welcome. His 
sweet smile of thanks she could not but acknowledge 
was cheaply purchased. 

She had gone, after luncheon, onto the lawn with her 
work, for it was very warm and fine, and the shadow 



beneath the trees looked tempting ; but she had not been 
seated long when Mr. Leslie joined her. 

"It is very pleasant out here, is it not?" he said; 
" just the place and time for a story. May I tell you 
one whilst you work ?" 

" Certainly ; I should like it of all things," answered 

" Well, we will begin in the good old style. Once 
upon a time there lived in an old country town a lady 
and gentleman, with one little girl. She was beautiful 
and intelligent, and an only child. The consequence 
which too often results from this combination was, that 
they spoilt her, and with all her fascination she grew up 
a selfish, headstrong, wilful girl, but beautiful beyond 
compare, so that she found it no difficulty to make 
slaves of all who came in her way. She was singularly 
clover, bnt would apply herself to no study, so that at 
seventeen she could neither read, write, nor spell pro- 
perly. At that time she lost both her parents within a 
few months of each other, and was left to the care of 
her only remaining relative, an uncle, a fox-hunting 
squire, and a bachelor, her father's executor and trustee 
for her property. He, fascinated by her beauty, and 
charmed with her engaging manners, continued the 
system of unlimited indulgence, and a wild, happy life 
she led there, seldom seeing any female society, but 
thrown amongst a lot of hunting men, who found the 
house more than ever agreeable since it was tenanted 
by the young beauty. One amongst them, superior to 
the others in looks and acquirements, she especially 
favoured, but soon found how deficient she was in the 
intelligence which would render her a fit companion for 
him, and with the strong determination of her character 


set to -work to study, and before a twelvemonth was 
ended had mastered all difficulties, and was as fair a 
scholar as any young lady of her age. Sir Everard 
Crosby, the young man for whom she had thus exerted 
herself, soon perceived the impression he had made, and 
knowing she had money, which would, he thought, be 
useful to him, he proposed to her and married her, 
caring not nearly so much for her as his favourite 
hunter. The uncle remonstrated witn her, and advised 
her warmly not to dream of marrying a man who was 
thoroughly unprincipled, and had nothing to recommend 
him but a good manner and a certain amount of learning, 
which he had the tact to make appear very profound ; 
but it was too late in the day to attempt to control the 
headstrong imperious beauty. They were married 9 
and the anticipated results followed ; the reckless 
spending of all her money by her husband, and his 
consequent neglect and ill-usage : her temper, unaccus- 
tomed to be restrained, grew daily wilder and more 
ungovernable, till, ashamed of the scenes she would even 
make in public, he suggested a separate maintenance. 
This was agreed to, and she returned to her uncle ; but 
disappointment and vexation had so soured her, that a 
wild ungovernable temper made the poor old man so 
wretched he was forced to request her to leave him. 
She had one little girl, a sweet, gentle, delicate child, 
whom she certainly idolized, but had no idea how to 
manage or care for it ; and a kind, affectionate widow 
lady in the neighbourhood, living alone on a handsome 
property, offered her a home with her, out of compassion 
to the sad large eyes of the child, which had always 
seemed to look pleadingly up in her gentle face for 
refuge from her violent though adoring mother. Lady 


Crosby accepted the offer with professions of over- 
powering gratitude, and for a little while all went well ; 
the gentle widow she spoke of as an angel, and with hei 
she remained until death laid its hand en her poor child, 
who in her last illness was patiently and tenderly nursed 
by this good and Christian lady. 

The little spirit had not long been gone to its rest 
when the unhappy temper of the mother, roused 
by a suggestion of her kind friend's that she should 
make peace with and return to her husband, broke 
out, and at once and indignantly she left the house, 
startling with violent invectives the gentle being 
who had so befriended her. From thence she went 
abroad for some years, taking with her an artful de- 
signing servant, whom the widow lady had discharged, 
leaving behind debts contracted through the whole 
town, which her true friend paid in the noblest way, 
that no stain might rest on the name of her in whom 
she had once been so interested, and who was the mother 
of the little angel whose tender eyes had left their light 
in her heart. 

Recklessly generous, Lady Crosby took a fancy 
abroad to a poor French family, whom she loaded 
with benefits, till she became embarrassed herself, and 
was obliged to write to England to borrow money to 
pay her way home again. The money was lent to her 
by by I may as well say, Miss Foster, for your face 
tells me you know the heroine of my story by Lady 

She has never repaid it, and since your visit there 
last autumn Lady Crosby has quarrelled with her 
for asking for it. Have I now your pardon for the 
sceptical smiles which have offended you, and have I by 


thus rudely tearing away the veil which shielded your 
friend's faults, made you lose your faith in human 
nature ?" 

" How did you know all this ?" asked Helena, in a 
low voice. 

" Why, a day or two before I came here, I went to 
call on Lady Warrington, and she was full of a long 
story, to which I paid but little attention at the time, 
about some lady to whom she had lent money, and who 
not only did not pay her, but had quarrelled with her 
for asking to be paid. When I heard you speaking of 
this beautiful, charming, and ill-used lady, whom you 
had met at Lady Warrington's, my suspicions were' in- 
stantly aroused, and I spoke to my uncle, suggesting 
that I should go to town and ascertain for a fact whether 
this was the lady of whom she had spoken, considering 
that a ' dangerous and fascinating beauty,' as Lady 
Warrington denominated her, was not a person for one 
like my little enthusiastic cousin to be very intimate 
with ; that she has had much sorrow, poor thing, there 
can be no question ; but she has met with such unequalled 
kindness from so many persons, that she ought to speak 
well of her fellow-creatures, instead of bitterly and 
hardly, as I hear she always does. I know, dear Helena," 
he said kindly, laying aside all jest as he spoke, "that I 
have pained you very much ; but I hope you will forgive 
me, for indeed it is to spare you more pain." 

" I cannot but forgive," answered Helena, " what is 
so kindly meant ; but I feel as though I should never 
love, that is, believe again.'* 

" I have no fear of so sad a result, Helena ; it will, 
I hope, only act as a warning to you to be more cautious 
in forming new friendships, or taking up people's causes. 


I trnst we shall both profit by the lessons we have 
taught each other." ' 

"Taught each other!" said Helena, wonderingly. 

"Yes, Helena, much as I laugh at you, you really 
have made me feel ashamed of myself as I have contrasted 
your desire for usefulness and your active life with my 
idle one ; and I am positively, after this holiday, going to 
turn over a new leaf, and see if I can find the work 
that there is for me to do, for I suppose I've got some 
about the world somewhere." 

" Yes," said Helena, sighing, " but it is difficult to 
find the right work." 

" Because we are apt to look for it too far ahead," 
said another voice joining in the conversation. 

It was her father. He put his hand gently on her 
shoulder, and looking kindly and tenderly in her sweet, 
young face, continued 

"A woman's duties are all very near her; they are 
in every part of her home, and there it is her holy pro- 
vince to be the better angel, the guide in all difficulties, 
the consoler in all sorrows, the light that gladdens all ; 
that is your work, my little maiden, here, in your old 
father's home, and some day, perhaps, in a husband's." 

Helena smiled through her tears, but said nothing ; 
her heart was too full for words, but the lesson had 
sunk deep, and though at first the house-work seemed 
dull and irksome to her, and she missed the importance 
which her self-imposed tasks had she fancied given her, 
by degrees she learnt to rejoice in the tender smile of 
thanks which her mother gave her for some little atten- 
tion, or for the forethought which had saved her some 
household care ; and at length she found that it was quite 
possible to perform acts of kindness and deeds of Christian 


charity to her poorer neighbours, without neglecting 
what Mr. Lee had bid her remember was her first duty. 
As she learnt to keep her father's house, and went about 
with her keys, like a sober little matron, with a happy 
smile on her bright face, and a proud consciousness that 
store-room and linen-press were in perfect order, under 
her rule and management, she was able to send soup to 
the sick, and rolls of old linen, and many things, which, 
knowing as she did the wants of the poor, she could 
supply them with ; so that many a heartier blessing was 
bestowed on her now than when she thought herself of 
more importance, and carried with her, though scarcely 
aware of it herself, a haughty manner, and a hard un- 
loving mode of performing what she thought her duty, 
so often acquired by those who make what should be done 
in loving obedience, meekly and humbly for His sake, 
who bade us care for His poor, a hard task, a mere 
business, as they would buy or sell, or do any other 
worldly work. 

Months rolled on, and she heard nothing of Mrs 
Hamilton, till one day a letter came from her with a 
foreign post-mark, saying that, having found out Bolton 
in an infamous attempt to defraud and deceive her, and 
being still annoyed by her husband, thoroughly disgusted 
with everything and everybody, she had left England 
for ever. Not one word did she say of the three 
pounds; but wound up with the assurance that 
the solitary pleasure and recollection of England to her 
would be the memory of her darling child, and of the 
young, fresh, warm-hearted girl who had once loved and 
befriended her. In after years, Helena frequently heard 
of the beautiful and clever woman, who kept winning 
friends by her fascination, and losing them by her 


violence; and though in her memory there lingered 
the sweet feeling of the old love she was quite willing 
to agree with her father in his disbelief of " victims," 
and his assurance that those who complain of having no 
friends have brought the fate upon themselves, and meris 
the desertion they so sadly deplore. 




WE lived in a tiny house in 
Brussels; nij mother, 
little Barbara, and I. What took us there was my 
father's wish, when he felt his own health failing fast, 
that my mother should be near some relations of his, 
who, he hoped, would be a comfort to her in the time of 
her lonely widowhood. He always said that his death 
was near, though the doctors spoke much more favour- 
ably, and his secret feeling was a true one, for a very 
short time after we had settled into our new home he 
died, and we were left alone as I said above. I have 
often wondered since then how my mother survived the 
shock; she had so clinging and affectionate a nature 
that, once deprived of her support, it seemed as if she 
must fall powerless to the earth : but the battle is not 


always to the strong, and though, for a time she was 
utterly prostrated, after a few months she recovered to 
be what she was before. I was ten years old at the 
time, and Barbara a baby of three. Probably we both 
inherited more of my father's than my mother's natural 
disposition, but well world it have been for me if I, who 
had the blessing of his example and teaching, had let 
them work in my heart, so that my character might 
have resembled that to which his had been trained. I 
can see now, and I have read it in the packet of letters 
treasured so long in my mother's desk, and now my 
precious inheritance, that he was by nature stern, un- 
yielding, perhaps somewhat unsparing ; but this was so 
softened by Christian charity that what rests most 
deeply in my remembrance is his tenderness, his 
patience, and his never-failing forbearance. 

Our means were very small, and our abode very un- 
pretending. It was a small house just outside the Port 
de Schaerbeck, chosen on account of the cheapness of 
living beyond the barriers; and, though my mother 
sometimes complained of the unfashionable situation, 
such of our friends as cared for us found no obstacle in 
its remoteness, and for others it did not matter. 
Besides, Brussels is such a compact little city, that 
from each part of it you are within an easy reach of 
everything. There are the Boulevards for those who 
like them, and the pretty park at the end of the Rue 
Royale, and the Allee Verte; and for longer rambles 
Laeken,with the king's country palace, and the gleaming 
white marble statue of Malibran in the cemetery, which 
they have been obliged to wall up because the pea- 
santry paid their devotions to it, under the belief that it 
was a figure of the Virgin. These were our principal 


walks, but Barbara and I often znada expeditions with 
our friends beyond what my mother's strength could 

That quaint little house, how vividly it conies before 
me now ! so clean that Trinette, onr one servant^ 
would hardly even allow a speck of dust to rest upon 
tho outside, and kept the pavement so spotless that we 
might have eaten our dinner there: so small that my 
mother used to say that when Barbara was grown up it 
could not hold us all. Downstairs besides the kitchen 
was the little salle, where our dinners were sent in daily 
from a neighbouring cafe, and, because it was rather a 
gloomy little apartment, we kept the windows filled, 
Brussels fashion, with the brightest flowers our garden 
could produce. Above this was a miniature double 
drawing-room, which it was my mother's delight should 
look as English as possible, and one great step in that 
direction was taken by having a real open fire-place 
instead of a suffocating stove : by its side was her bed- 
room, and above were our little dormitories. 

We grew up wild and but half educated, doing our 
own wills, and finding our own pleasures : how bitterly 
now do I regret those days and their fruits ! Had my 
father been alive it would have been different ; but my 
dear mother was so gentle and yielding that our impe- 
tuous wills carried all before them, and it was enough 
for us to have set our hearts upon anything to ensure 
the accomplishment of even the wildest scheme. Of 
course, being the eldest, I had some power in my hands 
of controlling Barbara, but it was for little good that I 
exercised it ; I loved her with a strong passionate love 
which would have given up everything for her sake, 
tuid, untutored as I was, all that I did was to watch 


tliat she was never thwarted, and indulge all her whims. 
The real suffering which my mother endured when full 
of anxiety about our wild pranks, I believe I never in 
the least realized ; though now I can remember her tears 
one evening when it was Carnival time, and we had 
taken it into our heads to remain at a house from which 
we expected to have a good view of a torch-light pro- 
cession. She had no idea as to where we were, and, I 
believe, suffered agonies of terror lest we might have 
been trampled down among the crowd. 

There could hardly have been a worse training than 
all this for two high-spirited girls like ourselves ; and 
no good fruit could spring from such utter want of dis- 
cipline, and selfish disregard for the wishes of others. 
Perhaps the evil was aggravated by our foreign home ; 
I think we had a sort of impression that away from 
England and our relations we might do very much what 
we pleased. I ought not to say " we," because Barbara 
was too childish to be governed by such considerations 
at the time I am going to tell you about ; but I have 
always been so accustomed to identify her with myself, 
that in looking back I lose sight of the difference in our 
ages. There is no space here for me to give an account 
of all the years of my life, and indeed I think my very 
best friends would weary over their monotony ; but I 
should like to tell you of one of the chief events in these 
years, and I wish it because it seems to me that I 
was not very different from other girls, and my expe- 
riences may help them along the rough road which we 
all have to travel. 

At the time, then, when my story begins, I was 
fourteen, and Barbara seven years old. She is very 
pretty still, and I know will always remain so to my 


eyes, but I can never make you understand how beau- 
tiful she was as a child. Her forehead was not high, but 
broad ; her eyes of the richest velvet brown, as dark as 
they could be without melting into black. Prettiest of 
all was the shape of her small head, and the golden 
hair which rippled over it; hair which, even when 
tossed and rumpled in the wildest disorder, could never 
look rough. I was as proud of her beauty as my 
mother was, and on this point I had the sense to keep 
my admiration to myself, for I had the greatest possible 
horror of my darling's growing up as vain and dress- 
loving as many of the Belgian girls about us. 

Our education was as unregulated as the rest of our 
lives. Before my father died he had taught me as much 
as his failing health would allow; I had, therefore, in 
many things been well grounded, and my mind in some 
measure drawn out. I had also, I believe, very fair 
abilities, and when the fit was upon me, or I was pitted 
against others of my own age, I could work both hard 
and well ; but I was guided by no rule except that of 
self-pleasing, and steadiness carried others to the front 
who at first were far behind me in talent and powers 
of comprehension. 

It may be supposed how Barbara's lessons fared 
when they were committed to my superintendence, 
because my mother did not feel herself strong enough to 
undertake them. We made a pretence of them every 
morning, the schoolroom being the little dining-room, 
and Barbara's seat the floor, on which she curled her- 
self up, her elbows on her knees, her chin on her hands, 
and her bright eyes dancing with fun and mischief. 
She was exceedingly backward in her reading, and 
ought really to have worked away at such sentences as 


"A MAN WENT OUT FOR A WALK," but her fancies and my 
educational theories despised these ancient and well- 
beaten paths, and soared at once to higher flights of 
literature. Generally I picked out the most amusing 
portions of the Vicar of Wakefield, such as the ride to 
Church, or the upset of the Miss Primrose's washes, and 
Barbara scrambled through the very smallest parts of 

nd left long words to me ; while I was called 

upon,, in addition, to illustrate the comic parts with 
sketches in pen and ink. Sometimes, if I was in an in- 
ventive humour, and Barbara's doll made no pressing 
claims upon her mistress, these readings took up the 
whole of the time that was ostensibty allotted to lessons, 
at others the Primrose family were voted dull, and a 


spelling-lesson began, commonly to terminate in three 
minutes with "You dear old tiresome Margie, what 
pudding are we going to have to-day?" or, "Oh, 
Margie, I am so tired, and I never get any holidays at 
all !" according as fun or pathos was the feature of the 

There was no great variety to be found in our days. 
My mother's delicate health prevented our breakfasting 
until late. In the middle of the day our tiny dinner 
was brought in from the restaurant, and in the evening 
Trinette's delicious coffee and light French rolls made 
a meal, to which we still by courtesy gave the name of 
tea. On Sunday mornings, at half-past eight, my 
aunt, Madame Bidaut, took Barbara and me through 
the long Rue Royale to the Place at the end, with the 
statue of Godfrey de Bouillon in the middle of it, and 
so down to the little English church. Before the after- 
noon service, if my mother felt pretty well, she used 
to go with us for one turn in the Park at the time 
when most of our acquaintances congregated there, and 
the alleys swarmed with gaily-dressed ladies. Since 
then, how have I learned to prize the quiet hours of an 
English Sunday ! 

Twice a week I went to a school for gymnastics, be- 
cause it was thought that my long awkward figure 
wanted improvement ; and I rather enjoyed the fun, as 
being bold and daring I could venture upon fe&ts at 
which the Belgian girls stared aghast. The only other 
instruction I received was from Monsieur Larron, my 
French drawing master; and he was the one person 
who obliged me to mind what he said, and with whom 
I could never be idle. He had the power of enforcing 
attention, and I had fortunately so much love for draw- 


ing, that I made considerable progress in the art. The 
remainder of our days we spent very much as we 
liked, sometimes going with my mother for a stroll 
along the Boulevard, but more often rambling away by 
ourselves in a way which my aunt, Madame Bidaut, 
called " inexpressibly reprehensible !" 

I am sorry to say that I could not bear my aunt, 
and as I took no trouble to hide my dislike, it was not 
to be expected that she should have very kindly feel- 
ings towards me. She was my mother's half-sister, and 
had married a Belgian doctor, and it was with the idea 
that my mother would be happier at being near her 
almost only surviving relation, that my father had moved 
to Brussels. The young expect perfection, and are 
generally uncharitable ; I could only see that side of 
Aunt Elizabeth's character which was the most unat- 
tractive, therefore, whenever we came into contact, we 
jarred. She loved patronising, and I was terribly inde- 
pendent. I hated her long talks with my mother be- 
cause I thought she tyrannized over her, and I could 
not bear any one to do that but myself. Besides which, 
I knew that Barbara and I were usually the subjects of 
these conversations, and that our faults were held up 
to the light with a sternness that too often was very 
just, but was also very unmerciful. Suggestions, there- 
fore, which my mother would doubtingly put before 
me, and which common sense alone would have induced 
me to acknowledge as right, I resented and opposed 
with all my might, just because they came from Aunt 

She had a daughter, my cousin Pauline, only a year 
older than myself; but this bond, which in our solitary 
position should naturally have been a very close and 


dear one, became unhappily only another cause for dis- 
like. Panline was the person who was constantly held 
up before me as both a pattern and a contrast. I was 
plain, she was pretty ; I was untidy, she was neatness 
itself; I was heedless, Pauline's head was never in 
fault. My whole nature seemed full of uncomfortable 
bumps and angles, which never presented themselves 
to view in my steady cousin. I do not think that the 
knowledge of these advantages excited any jealousy in 
my mind. If I had been let alone to do so I should 
most likely have acknowledged and heartily admired 
them ; but my aunt was injudicious in constantly irri- 
tating me with comparisons, and the natural conse- 
quence followed. I disliked Pauline as much as her 
mother, and when I heard the quick, hard step upon 
the stairs, or caught the first glimpse of the striped 
green silk in which I wickedly believed my aunt 
arrayed herself when she wished most completely to 
overwhelm my mother, I either fled or prepared myself 
for battle, and behaved very badly in the encounter. 

Doctor Bidaut I liked when we saw him, but that 
was only occasionally of an evening, when he sat at a 
little table with his own lamp and books, removed from 
the rest of the party. I often found myself watching 
his face. Thin, sallow, and grave though it was, there 
was an expression of power about it which took my 
girlish fancy; and although he seldom spoke, and 
scarcely seemed one of us, I felt sure that Aunt Eliza- 
beth was far less disagreeable in his presence. Fur- 
thermore, he won all my gratitude one evening when 
some comparison was made between me and Pauline 
of course to my disadvantage by looking up and 
saying quietly, " All have not the same qualities ; 


Marguerite is not orderly like Pauline, but her talents 
are far greater." I think this speech came upon his 
wife like a thunderbolt. My dear mother was afraid 
she was hurt and began disclaiming, but after that 
night I was spared any more comparisons before Doctor 

I have now as well as I can explained our position 
in Brussels, and described the only relations with whom 
we were then acquainted. Very soon the circle was to 
become unexpectedly enlarged. 


FOREIGN letters so rarely arrived at our house, that we 
were a good deal excited when one winter evening 
Trinette interrupted, our tea with a letter for " Ma- 
dame." The English post marks and the English di- 
rection to Mrs. Kelly raised our curiosity to its highest 
pitch ; my mother was quite nervous, her cheeks flushed 
with the soft pink tint that came as readily, as with a 
child, and her hands trembled so much that she could 
hardly break the seal. I never could understand this 
painful nervousness which any surprise was apt to 
cause, but put it down as only mamma's way, and now 
longed greatly to know what news the letter contained ; 
while Barbara scrambled on her knee and made a pre- 
tence of reading its secrets and disclosing them to her 
doll in an audible whisper, with particular commands 
that she was on no account to tell. 

" Oh, dear!" said my mother, looking up at last 
a bewildered face, "this is very unexpected. I 


don't quite know what we are to do, Margie, or how 
we can manage. "Who would have thought of their 
coming ?" 

" What is it about ? Who are coming, mamma ?" 

" Your nncle and aunt Henry. I can't quite make 
out about it, and there are so many figures which I 
don't understand, but it seems to me they may be here 
any day. Dear, dear, where are they to go ?" 

My mother disliked independent action so much, 
that in the absence of other counsellors she was accus- 
tomed to appeal to me as if I had been a much older 
person ; so I took the letter, and made out that my 
uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Cliff, were indeed coming 
to Brussels. 

" It is on their way to see Frank at Bonn, mamma. 
He has been ill, and they are not happy about him. 
Let me see. Tuesday steamer Antwerp, 10.30 
that must be to-morrow. Oh, yes, they mean to spend 
all to-morrow at Antwerp, stop at Malines, and be here 
on Wednesday at five. Mamma, do you see ? Robert 
and Hester are coming too." 

"The children!" exclaimed my mother, faintly. 
" My dear love, where can they sleep ? I must really go 
and speak to your Aunt Elizabeth." 

"What for, mamma?" I said, jealously; "it is 
quite easy to settle. Of course they can't come here, 
because we have scarcely room for a fly ; but we can 
get rooms for them at the Hotel de France." 

" It seems so inhospitable," my mother hesitatingly 
murmured ; " but I suppose it will be best, and perhaps 
Aunt Elizabeth will help you to choose nice rooms." 

" Now, mamma, don't let us have her poking about 
and spoiling everything." 


" Oh, Margie, Margie !" 

But, as usual, I had my own way, and my mother 
knocked herself up the next morning with a tramp 
through the snowy streets, and up the never-ending 
stairs of the hotel, besides giving offence to Aunt 
Elizabeth, who came that afternoon, and found every- 
thing arranged without her. We chose rooms over- 
looking the Park, sent a letter to Antwerp to notify the 
fact, and then awaited Thursday morning as quietly as 
we could, which, with Barbara and me, was not quietly 
at all. My mother was even more shy and nervous 
than usual. She always dreaded strangers, bat Mr. 
and Mrs. Cliff happened to be more formidable to her 
than any others. They were my father's sister and 
brother-in-law, and I believe his family showed such great 
displeasure at his marriage with my dear mother, that he 
had as much as possible shielded her from any contact 
with them. Since his death they had contented them- 
selves with quarterly letters and general expressions of 
sympathy, which were intended to serve instead of more 
substantial help to the widow and children ; until now 
it was remembered that Margaret had a house in Brus- 
sels, and that she really might be of some use. My 
mother was so gentle and uncomplaining, that she had 
never hinted before us at any want of kindness from 
her husband's family. I sometimes wondered that we 
never saw any of the cousins of whom my father spoke ; 
but having never known another state of things, I sup- 
posed it to be natural, and thought it was only Aunt 
Elizabeth's general disagreeableness that made her sniff 
and snort, and wonder what they came for on the 
evening of Mr. and Mrs. Cliff's arrival. 

After all our preparations, they took us by surprise 


the next morning, when I was standing before my 
mother, urging her with all my might to start for the 
hotel, and she was hanging back from fear of being 
thought intrusive. Our difficulties were soon settled, 
for Barbara came flying in 

" Robert and Hester are come, Margie, and Undo 
Henry is so fat." 

I hope Uncle Henry did not hear, for the next 
moment they were in the room : my aunt fair, sub- 
stantial, and majestic ; my uncle short and broad ; and 
Hester and Robert light-haired, blue-eyed, thoroughly 
British-looking children, rather younger than myself. 
From what I can remember of the interview, Mr. and 
Mrs. Cliff were bent upon being gracious, and I fancy 
that my mother's gentle timidity pleased them exceed- 
ingly, for everything was charming Brussels, the hotel, 
the snow, Barbara and I, our rooms, everything down 
to the faded old carpet with a patch in it, on which 
always stood my mother's footstool. 

" So nice," said my aunt, approvingly ; and my poor 
mother looked round with a sigh at her shabby little 
belongings, and said, " Tes, it all did well enough." 

At last rose a discussion of the new-comers' plans 
and of Frank's illness, and it appeared that in conse- 
quence of letters received that morning, Mr. and Mrs. 
Cliff found it necessary to push on without delay. 
Then came a doubt about the dear children, and at last, 
after several unsuccessful hints, the open expression of 
a wish that dear Margaret would allow them to remain 
with her during their absence in Germany. 

My mother coloured, and looked appealingly at me ; 
then said something gently about liking it so much, 
only the house was very small. 


" There is tlie little lumber-room," I suggested, 
because I was burning with impatience at the i Jea of 
any hindrances, and my aunt caught at the wordr. 
Anything would do, they might be stowed away any- 
where ; but it would be the greatest comfort, and such 
an advantage to the dear children, to know each other 
better. My mother very soon was led to agree to the 
proposition, partly because she had always a difficulty 
in saying no, partly because she saw my heart was set 
upon it, and partly because she really believed it might 
be advantageous to us. When Aunt Elizabeth came 
that evening to hear a report of the day's proceedings, 
she only remarked, in the tone which always set my 
teeth on edge 

" Exactly. I knew there was some object in their 
coming ; this will be a very cheap way of letting their 
children learn French. Margaret, I ain surprised at 
your want of spirit !" 

Barbara and I went through plenty of sight- seeing 
that afternoon, and dined, to our great delight, at the 
table d'hote ; after which, Uncle Henry and Robert 
walked home with us. I did not fancy my uncle was 
very wise, and I suspected that he was a good deal 
under his wife's dominion ; but he was exceedingly 
good-natured, and on the whole we enjoyed our day as 
much as we could wish. 

How I worried poor Trinette the next morning ! 
She and I varied much in our feelings towards one 
another ; sometimes I racketed her out of her senses, 
when she revenged herself by pouring out a voluble list 
of grievances to " madame ;" at others we lived in a 
sort of armed truce. But the sentiment of her life was 
love for the petite, and her round, flat face would absc* 


lutely beam with delight when Barbara came to coax 
for anything with the pretty beseeching ways, which 
she knew could nob be resisted. She kept Trinette in 
good humour this busy morning, when so much had to 
be arranged. Barbara was to sleep with my mother 
and Hester with me, but it required some ingenuity to 
transmogrify the tiny lumber-room into a bed-room for 
Master Robert, and to manage that when he was in it 
he should not be quite suffocated. We had done our 
best by the time the brother and sister arrived in a 
state of awkward shyness, which my mother's gentle 
kindliness soon dispelled ; so that Robert, before going 
to bed that night, confided to me that staying behind 
was jolly. 

I liked him the best although he was the youngest, 
because I thought Hester inclined to be fine. Everything 
was measured by the standard of her own belongings, 
and compared with "our house," "our garden," "our 
people." I really believe she thought grand old Sainte 
Gudule inferior in architecture to the village church at 
Hatherleigh. Into the bargain she admired herself, and 
Barbara used to bring Robert to laugh at her " doing 
the peacock " before some glass, where she fancied 
herself unperceived. I think we tormented poor Hester 
greatly, for her faults were just those with which I 
could not sympathize, and there was no deep feeling of 
affection between the brother and sister to lead them to 
spare or screen one another, or to check Robert when I 
encouraged him in his love of teasing. 

Shyness ! that had vanished to the winds in no 
time ! I am thoroughly ashamed of the remembrance 
of tlioye days when our house must indeed has? been 
the bear-garden which Auut Elizabeth called it. "VVe 


were tearing in and out all day long, and up to every wild 
prank which it was possible for us to play, Hester being 
dragged with us against her will, because she was 
afraid of being laughed at. Very often we got into 
sad scrapes, and then everything was laid upon my 
shoulders. There could be no doubt that I was in 
general the one most to blame ; but it sometimes struck 
me as strange, whether it was so or not, the conse- 
quences were sure to fall upon me, while Robert 
slipped out of them scot free. However, I had a reck- 
less spirit, and did not very much mind, 

My mother's acute nerves suffered grievously during 
these boisterous days, and she suffered still more from 
pain at the frequent complaints of our conduct which 
were vented upon her. Trinette protested that she 
could not keep the house clean or tidy; the masters 
who were engaged for my cousins' lessons said their 
coming was useless, when nothing was prepared*before- 
hand ; and my Aunt Elizabeth's comparisons of me 
with her steady Pauline became more and more 
severe. The idea that Aunt Elizabeth's fidgets were at 
the root of all complaints, made me listen more im- 
patiently to my mother's entreating expostulations than 
I might otherwise have done ; but, indeed, I can in no 
way excuse myself, because it was downright thought- 
lessness which prevented my realizing the pain I was 

One of our wild exploits took place on the occasion 
of a children's party given by one of the English resi- 
dents at Brussels, and to which we were all invited. 
We went with Pauline under Aunt Elizabeth's guardian- 
ship, and the evening passed without our getting into 
disgrace; and, to the intense glorification of Hester, 


wlio in a pink silk frock felt herself the most gorgeous 
of the company. On our return we were to share a 
carriage with the Sullivans, two Irish girls living 
near us ; and accordingly before eleven o'clock my aunt 
saw that we were wrapped up and put into the vehicle. 
I don't think she felt quite easy in her mind, but there 
did not seem any possible mischief into which we 
could fall, and Mary Sullivan was fifteen, and pre- 
sented every outward appearance of steadiness. It was 
she who just after we had started cried out in 

" Oh, Bertha, the cards ! we never left them !" 

"What cards?" inquired Hester. 

" Why, papa and mamma told us to leave cards for 
them at Baron d'Auribeau's on our way this afternoon, 
because they went to a ball there the other night, and it 
is so far from our house ; and here are the cards in my 
pocket !" 

" Let us go and leave them now," I suggested. 

" What, at this time of night ? oh, we can't !" 

" Why not ? Nonsense, Mary, they will only think 
it a new oddity of ces Anglaises." 

Mary hesitated, but the fun was too irresistible for 
her Irish blood ; the driver was told, and away we went 
down a narrow street, to stop at a massive, sombre 
house, in which not a light or sign of inhabitant was to 
be seen. Our driver hammered away at the door, but it 
was long before any one appeared, and then out came 
the husband of the concierge, shading his eyes from the 
light which he held, and evidently just awakened from 
his first sleep. I shall never forget the poor man's 
bewildered stare as the card was put into his hands, or 
the laughing we had all the way home at the wondei 


which would be created by the new English eccen- 

" It will be all right, though," said Robert, rubbing 
his hands, "and your father and mother will never find 
it out." 

Mary Sullivan opened her eyes in amazement 
" Why, you don't suppose we shall not tell them ! I 
expect mamma will scold a little bit, but it would be too 
horrid to let them think we had done it as they told 

It was Robert's turn to stare now. He and Hester 
had certainly no love for confessions. 


IT was a fine bright morning, but excessively cold; 
the snow lay crisp and hard on the pavement, and our 
bed-room windows were thickly coated with frost that as 
yet gave no symptom of thawing. My cousins had been 
at Brussels for a month, aiid Mrs. Cliff" wrote 
that in a few more days she hoped to be with us, and 
relieve dear Margaret of the charge she had so kindly 
undertaken : meanwhile she earnestly trusted her dear 
children had gained the approbation of their instructors. 
It did not sound very like a fulfilment of her hopes that 
morning, when the little French mistress' voice rang 
shrill and sharp .through the house trying to enforce 
attention, and Barbara declared that she heard "poor 
Robert's" yawns through two walls and a baize door. 
When at last they escaped from their confinement they 
were in a frantfc state to go somewhere or do some- 


thing to get those horrid verbs out of their head. An 
objection was made to every proposed plan for this 
desirable object ; Hester wanted to walk in the park, but 
her brother grimaced at the idea; they. bad seen all the 
lions of Brussels, the Botanic Gardens, and the Museum, 
and the market-place where Egmont and Horn " 

"Bother old Egmont and Horn!" broke in Robert 
impatiently; "there's no fun in that. Now at home 
there would be something for a fellow to do, shooting, or 
skating, or " 

"Well," I said, angry at his ingratitude, "there's 
skating enough here." 

"Skating! oh, that's awfully jolly! Come along, 
girls, let's be off." 

" But I must get leave first," I said, doubtfully, for 
I knew my mother trembled at the very name of ice. 

"Well, get it; you can get anything you like, I 
know. I tell you what, Margie, you ought to have been 
a boy, because you're such fun." 

I had never found my mother so difficult to persuade, 
for in general she yielded to me after a few remon- 
strances, but that day she tried every argument to turn 
us from our purpose. At the last I cannot say she quite 
consented, though she did not forbid it; she shook her head 
sadly when I had given her a parting hug, and assured 
her that no harm could possibly come to us, and said 

" You must do as you please, Margie ; I cannot con- 
trol you ; but remember, if anything happens to Barbara 
I shall die." 

Her tone was so sad that I half repented, but Robert 
was impatiently drumming outside the door, and the 
impetuous self-will which my mother said she could not 
control, and which I had never myself learned to govern, 


earned me away in spite of the misgivings of my 
conscience. All the bread we could find we crammed 
into our pockets, meaning to be independent of dinner, 
and started. Trinette was cleaning the steps, and 
Robert's first exploit in rushing out was to tumble over 
her bucket, and cany it with him in a headlong descent. 
He looked very rueful as he picked himself up, and the 
astonished Trinette seized the opportunity to pour out 
voluble reproaches upon us all, me in particular. 

" Tenez, Mam' sell e Marg'rite, will there never be an 
end of your follies? Is it not enough for the poor 
Madame to have so much pain from your behaviour 
within, but you cannot even seek your distractions out 
of doors in a comme il faut manner ! And the petite, do 
you take her also with you ? Ah, my child, my jewel, 
my angel, take heed to thyself and be sage!" 

Triii ette cast withering glances upon us as she spoke 
but, though half affronted, I only laughed it off", and we 
turned towards the Boulevard ; Hester daintily picking 
her way along the slippery road, lest a fall should 
iamage her new frock. It was a very exhilarating day ; 
|}2low all was hard and crisp, and overhead was a clear 
ran and a cloudless blue sky, against which the snowy 
branches of the trees stood out in delicate tracery. 
The cheerful houses along the Boulevard had their 
lower windows filled with the most lovely flowers ; tiny 
orange-trees laden with blossom, moss-roses breaking 
into bud, brilliant masses of hyacinths and tulips ; here 
and there where the windows were opened a strange 
summer smell contrasted with the outer cold. Every 
one moved briskly, for it was too cold to dawdle ; the 
drivers of the fiacres thumped their chests to warm 
their frozen fingers ; peasant women, with bright hand- 


kerchief shawls and tight caps clattered along in their 
great sabots; sleighs dashed by in numbers, gay with 
every imaginable quaint device, with tinkling bells and 
bear and tiger skins, and ladies seated in them like 
helpless masses of furs. There was quite enough to 
amuse us on the road, for numbers of people were 
bound for the same destination as ourselves. Turning 
out of the Boulevard by another Porte, we left the town 
behind, and half-an-hour's walking brought the gay 
skating scene in view. It was a large pond overhung 
with banks, and with a massive building which once 
had been a convent standing stern and gloomy at one 
end a dismal spot enough when not enlivened by its 
present gaiety and excitement. But now all was anima- 
tion; boys and men cut grotesque figures on the ice, or 
swept gracefully down from one end of the pond to the 
other j and the ladies, who feared to tempt such dangers, 
ensconced themselves in small wooden chairs or minia- 
ture sleighs which gentlemen pushed behind, and sent 
rapidly skimming over the ice. 

Before we left home I had made up my mind that 
we would only be lookers-on, because my mother's words 
would ring in my ears, and perhaps it was the know- 
ledge of this which made Robert talk so grandly as we 
came along about his skating powers. He could cut 
zigzags, circles, eights, any out-of-the-way figure ; there 
was nothing which he had not done, or was not equal to 
doing ; and he expressed the most unmitigated contempt 
at the idea of French fellows being able to skate. But 
these professions suddenly ceased when we reached the 
pond itself, and beyond a few innocent attempts at 
sliding on its outskirts, Robert did not attempt to dazzle 
us with his boasted exploits. 


Many of the skaters were acquaintances of ours, and 
among them a French, family who entered with the 
greatest zest into the spirit of the amusement. Auguste 
Didier, a good-tempered lad, seeing us after a time 
standing rather disconsolately on the bank, skated for- 
ward with an empty chair, and requested the honour of 
taking one of the young ladies for a promenade upon 
the ice. My resolutions vanished to the winds. Hester, 
as the stranger, was first packed in, and away she went 
in a flutter of delight at the distinction. By turns we 
all shared the fun; Robert obtained leave from the 
good-natured Auguste to assist in pushing behind, and 
after a good many tumbles he scrambled along pretty 
well. I could not, however, resist whispering to him 
that, after all, he did not seem to be able to do much 
without the help of a " French fellow ! " Little I thought 
what that speech would cost us ! 

Auguste took us for his last promenade, and with a 
sweeping bow went off* to make himself agreeable to 
others among the crowd. I imagined our sleighing was 
at an end, and, leaving Hester and Barbara to watch 
the skaters, went over to talk to an old lady and gentle-r 
man who had recognized me, and were smiling and 
nodding from the other side of the water. They had a 
great many questions to ask on different subjects, and 
kept me standing by them longer than I had intended ; 
presently old Madame Vanderlinden said 

" And the petite, I see, is enjoying herself among the 
others. Ah ! how charming it is that our young ones 
should have so paany diversions !" 

She made a gesture with her hand towards the ice 
as she spoke, and, looking that way, I saw that she was 
actually pointing to Barbara, who was seated in a sjeigh, 


and pushed along by Robert alone. I was exceedingly 
frightened and angry ; there was Robert dragging the 
child into danger by way of proving to me that he could 
do without the aid of a " French fellow," and I was per- 
fectly helpless and unable to get at them. I beckoned 
and called in vain ; Barbara laughed, kissed her hand, 
and was evidently in full enjoyment of the fun; and 
Robert only nodded with a provoking little air of tri- 
umph which annoyed me almost as much as anything 
else. After all, I began to think I might be over-fid- 
getty. Monsieur and Madame Vanderlinden were look- 
ing calmly on with evidently no idea of danger in their 
heads ; it was true they did not know as I did Robert's 
utter unskilfulness, but then what could happen at the 
worst ? If Robert fell a dozen times (and for his own 
sake I heartily wished that he might) no harm could 
come to Barbara. So I stood discontentedly watching 
them, only resolved to administer a good scolding when 
once they were off the ice, and in my power. 

At last, after careering about in a blundering fashion 
to his heart's content, Robert seemed to get weary, and 
turned the little sleigh in the direction of the old con- 
vent, towards which I had strolled. I had just noticed 
that no skaters seemed to approach very near that spot, 
but without thinking of any reason for their keeping off, 
when I heard a cry from two or three of the nearest 

" Back, back ! it is dangerous ; it is forbidden to go 

Oh, the agony of that moment ! I knew directly 
what it meant. I cried out too, " Oh, go back ! go 
back ! " but Robert scared, and, only half understanding, 
lost all presence of mind : instead of turning round, he 


let go the chair, and, driven on by the impetus, it came 
straight towards me towards the danger. It was but 
for an instant; I heard the ice crackling, I saw my 
darling standing up, her golden hair flying behind her ; 
her arms stretched out, crying, " Margie ! Margie ! " 
and then came a sharper crack, and she went down in a 
gaping hole. 

I do not think that I was frightened any more. I 
distinctly heard my mother's words, " Remember, if 
anything happens to Barbara, I shall die ;" and I was 
quite collected when I ran down the bank before any 
one else was able to reach the spot. Then I believe 
they called out to me. I remember a confused medley 
of voices and shouts, but no one dared to follow me on 
the ice. One voice rang clearly out to my comprehen- 
sion ; I know now that it was Auguste Didier's : " Lie 
down flat, Mademoiselle, it is the only chance ! " Every 
instinct in me was mercifully quickened, and I did it ; 
I pushed myself along to the edge of the hole. The 
chair had not altogether fallen under water, a part of it 
still hung suspended, and perhaps had caught Barbara's 
dress, and prevented her from beiag sucked under the 
ice. She was not far from the surface, and I caught her 
frock, and, for a few moments, brought her head above 
water. But, still conscious, she clutched at the sides of 
the dreadful hole, and the already cracking ice broke 
away in her grasp, piece by piece, from under me. I 
could not drag her out. I knew that I was sinking 
myself ; it was all the work of a few moments. I heard 
cries close to me. I even saw men pushing ladders and 
poles along the ice, and then came a rush, and darkness j 
and T remember no more. 




I AWOKE witli a sensation of warmth, and an indis- 
tinct consciousness that many people were moving 
about ; and that some one whose voice sounded very far 
away, whispered, " Thank Heaven, this one is saved ! " 
bnt it was a long time before I could collect my senses 
sufficiently to know where I was. It was a strange 
room, and strange people were in it, all looking as far 
off and unreal as if it was but the awakening from a 
vivid dream. But after I had looked for a long time at 
one of these figures, I made out that it was my Aunt 
Elizabeth, crying, and strangely moved. She brushed 
away her tears when she saw that I recognized her, and 
said quite gently, " My dear, you are better now ; will 
you drink this?" and then I found that she was really 
standing quite close to my pillow, and holding some hot 
mixture to my lips. 

I did as I was bid, and I believe I called my mother, 
for in a moment I remembered something of the past, 
and tried to start up in bed, but could not lift myself. 
Then I cried out in agony 

" Barbara ! Barbara is in the water ! Aunt Eliza- 
beth, do you hear ? she is under the ice !" 

I think my aunt was terribly upset, but she answered 
me calmly 

" My dear, she is here ; she is in this house." 

" How came she here ?" I asked, looking dreamily 
round, for my senses were only half roused ; " I don't 
see her, is she safe ? " 

" We think she is asleep." 

Was it Aunt Elizabeth, or was I still dreaming? 


The voice was so unlike hers, so low, so subdued ; the 
puzzle made me almost angry. Then my eye fell upon 
something which I held in my hand, a small piece of 
coloured stuff : I held it out to her. 
"What is it?" 

She took it from me, and for a moment did not 
answer ; at last she said 

" It is a little bit of Barbara's frock ; you held her 
so tight, my dear, they could not separate you. But 
you must not talk, only drink this and go to sleep, so 
as to be quite well by the time your mother comes." 

I pushed the glass away with my hand, " Is Doctor 
Bidaut here?" We never called him uncle. 

"Yes, he has only just gone away; he wishes you 
to take this ; you must do it, Margie." 

My aunt spoke with something of her old authori- 
tative tone, and I no longer resisted ; I drank it, but 
with an undefined misgiving I asked once more 
" And Barbara is safe ? You are sure ?" 
"My dear, she is here asleep." 
I know now that they thought it was the sleep ot 

When, after desperate efforts, in which Auguste 
Didier was the most unceasing, they had rescued us, 
we were both insensible ; and as they could not loosen 
my grasp of Barbara's dress, they were obliged, in order 
to divide us, to cut it away, and to leave the piece in 
my hand. Old Monsieur Yanderlinden took the direc- 
tion of affairs ; thus by his orders we were carried to 
the nearest house, and a messenger was sent off to 
request Doctor Bidaut and my aunt to come instantly. 
Happily they met the former on the road, so that littlo 
tims elapsed before all that medical skill could suggest 


was being tried. From the first he had greater hope 
for me than for Barbara, because she had been longer in 
the water, and all endeavours to restore animation 
seemed to be perfectly useless. My aunt has told me 
that one by one they all completely gave up hope, but 
he never ceased to watch and use every imaginable 
means. She said to him once, "Louis, it is useless; 
hadst thou not better leave her?" and he answered, 
" Not yet, mon amie ; it may be God will still give back 
the little ewe lamb to her mother." Ah ! how happy 
he must have felt when his faith and patience were 
rewarded; and when at length we were both quietly 
sleeping, and the crowd at the door had dispersed at 
the intelligence, Madame Bidaut ventured, for the first 
time, to send tidings to our home. 

It may seem strange that this had not been done 
before, but my aunt dreaded the effect of the news ; if 
it had gone to my mother when we were at the worst, and 
brought her to find us unconscious, the results might 
have been grievous. As it was, they were obliged to 
use the greatest caution in the wording of the note, 
and Doctor Bidaut wrote a rough scrawl for my aunt 
to copy out. I once found this little note put carefully 
away among my mother's treasures, written on only a 
small scrap of paper, but in firm handwriting, in which 
all appearance of haste was studiously avoided : 

" DEAE MAEGAEET, Margie, Barbara, and the others 
are with us, and perhaps we shall keep some of them 
all night, for the silly children got a wetting at the 
pond to-day ; so we thought it better to give them dry 
clothes at once. I daresay you will hear all kinds of 
wonderful stories about their adventure, but there is 


nothing to be alarmed at ; and lest you should not bo 
satisfied with my assurance, Louis will walk over for 
you in an hour's time, that you may see them with your 
own eyes. Your affectionate sister, 


It was not very far to move, and Doctor Bidaut 
noped to convey us, well wrapped in blankets, to his 
own house before my mother could arrive ; but as we 
both slept on, he left directions for future treatment, 
and started for our house. As he expected, he met my 
mother on the road, leaning on Trinette, and hurrying 
along, pale and nervous, but by no means aware of the 
extent of the accident until he gradually told her of 
what our danger had been. She and he had never got 
on together particularly well, because he thought her 
fanciful, and she was afraid of him ; but in any case of 
real suffering his tenderness was infinite, and now he 
opened into all the kindliness of which he was so 
largely capable. He brought her back, and she found 
us sleeping as he had said, and stole on tiptoe from one 
room to the other, quiet tears running down her face 
all the time, until my aunt persuaded her to rest 
calmly by Barbara's side, and watch for the child's 

Aunt Elizabeth now went in search of Hester and 
Robert, who, frightened out of their wits at the share 
which the latter had in the accident, had crept into the 
house with the crowd, and were found by her huddled 
together in a corner behind the stove. She brought 
them out looking thoroughly scared and miserable ; but 
when they heard that we were not really drowned, 
their spirits and appetites revived, and they were glad 


to be fed upon cakes and chocolate by the good-natured 
mistress of the house, who was very desirous to vent 
her hospitality upon some of the party. 

Barbara awoke so much restored, that Doctor 
Bidaut consented to my mother's taking her home at 
once. I was not so well, for some pain in my back 
still prevented my rising: and, instead of going with 
the others, he wished me to be taken to his own house, 
and undertook that I should there be well watched and 
cared for. My mother was very averse to the sepa- 
ration, but she dreaded being thought ungrateful ; and 
Aunt Elizabeth told her that her husband thought I 
had received some wrench or sprain in the endeavour 
to drag out Barbara, which would require his skill and 
attention for some time. For myself, I felt too stupified 
and weak to resist what at another time would have 
seemed to me too dreadful ; I submitted without a word 
to my mother's tearful farewell, and after the painful 
remove was over though Dr. Bidaut eased it as much 
as he could by carrying me himself to the fiacre I 
became so uneasy and feverish as to care little where I 
was. For days I continued very ill, and haunted by 
terrible visions of Barbara's frightened face, as I saw 
her coming towards me over the treacherous ice, with 
outstretched arms which always eluded my grasp, and 
with her piteous cry ringing in my head, " Oh, Margie, 
Margie !" 

When the fever went it left me very weak, only 
able to lie still and trace the lines on the paper of my 
room, and count how many times they were repeated 
in each pattern, and how many patterns there were 
between the floor and the ceiling. How those lines 
worried me ! - They were all most kind. Pauline, quiefc 


and affectionate, remembering every one of her father's 
directions, and moving about the room with a step that 
was really noiseless. Aunt Elizabeth never attained to 
this perfection of a nurse ; she was more angular and 
abrupt, and when she tried hardest to go upon tiptoe 
there was an irritating rustle about her suggestive of 
the green silk ; but she never once spoke sharply to 
me, and petted, even if she half scolded, my dear 
mother. I think I suffered the more as I became phy- 
sically better, because my mind went to work, and the 
thoughts which had before floated by in an indistinct 
maze took shrpe and consistency, and would not be 
stilled. I thought how different my life was to whal 
my father's lessons should have made it, and how, in- 
stead of being a comfort to my mother, I had been 
nothing but a care and burden. I thought how badly I 
was influencing Barbara, teaching her, like myself, to 
mind nothing but the self-pleasing of the moment ; and 
I thought, with a shudder, to what that self-pleasing 
had all but led me ! The last act had brought punish- 
ment, and had opened my eyes to my danger ; but it 
was not really worse than a hundred other instances of 
self-will which rose up now from the recesses of my 
conscience, and upon which, because they carried with 
them no visible ill effects, I had never until now cast 
back a sorrowful thought. 

I was very wretched. Sometimes I spent my time 
in m?Mng good resolutions ; at others I tried hard tc 
drive tiem out of my head, and begged Pauline to sit 
by me and read. Her voice, her quietness, her calm 
face, with the fair hair smoothly plaited away from it, 
all soothed and stilled me ; she was not clever, but she 
was good ; and she seemed to carry about with her an 


atmosphere of serene peace, which, was an infinite 
comfort to me at this time of miserable self-accusing. 

The pain in my back continued, and prevented me 
from sitting up much, though it struck me occasionally 
that I had been ill for an unaccountable length of time. 
Barbara brought me early flowers and little branches of 
bushes and trees, that I might see for myself, first, how 
the brown buds had swollen, and then how the tender 
leaves were unfolding their vivid green. She kept me 
informed of every step which our garden made towards 
spring ; and of the removal of the straw coverings 
from the statues in the park, which had always seemed 
to us like the ending of winter. I began to have a 
restless longing to get out, and to think that Doctor 
Bidaut with all his kindness was very cruel. Often my 
mother urged that I might return home with her, but 
he always had the same answer, " Let her rest where 
she is, the house is quieter." My cousins left Brussels 
a day or two after our accident, I could not hear much 
about them, but my mother said that Mrs. Cliff appeared 
satisfied, had no doubt the visit would prove of advan- 
tage to all, and hoped it might be repeated at some 
future time. She took no notice of Robert's share in 
the accident, but trusted it would be a lesson to me and 
to my sister, who, she had remarked, were somewhat 
wild. This was all ; my mother repeated her sister-in- 
law's words simply, and without a shadow of annoyance 
in her tone. 

" And not one word of thanks for all you did ! O 
mamma, how could you stand it ?" 

" She was not unkind, Margie, my love," pleaded 
my mother anxiously ; " I assure you we parted very 
good friends, and Hester and Robert sent their love." 


I gave an impatient twist which hurt my back, 
and obliged me to be qniet. 

Indeed I was terribly impatient at this time, and 
wretched at the knowledge that I was so. Sometimes 
I was even provoked with Pauline for her forbearance, 
and would have preferred a good scolding to the pitying 
looks and tones which I met with from everybody up to 
Aunt Elizabeth, even when I had been most provoking. 
It was not so much that I minded the attacks of pain ; 
severe as they were, when they came I felt as if there 
was something definite to bear, and bear them I did 
grimly and uncomplainingly; but many a little child 
who had been early trained to self-control would have 
endured the confinement and tedium of a sick room 
better than I, whose fifteenth birthday passed during 
those weary months. 

My mother's face, instead of brightening, became 
each day mor-e sad during the hours which she daily 
spent by my side ; often she broke down altogether, 
and went away in a flood of tears, which I fancied were 
caused by hasty words of mine, and which added not a 
little to my unhappiness. After a time people came to 
see me as I lay on a sofa in my bed-room. I thought 
they would be a relief, I had an intense longing to get 
away from myself, to be treated like the rest of the 
world, and to be looked at without the pitiful expression 
that seemed always to grow out of the faces that bent 
over me. But the visitors made matters worse, for 
they talked of the heroism I had shown. I, who had 
caused it all ! They assured me that the whole town 
rang with praises of my courage and presence of mind ; 
that it had been immortalized in the journals. " Ah, 
madame, and such a young girl !" excldmed one enthu- 


Si'asluO lady, turning to my mother, and clasping her 
hands, " What an honour to have her for your 
daughter !" I had a misanthropical pleasure in telling 
Pauline that I afterwards heard the same lady whisper 
to her companion, that really I was too ugly to be a 

Aunt Elizabeth was sharp-sighted enough in general 
but, with one exception, I think no one in the house 
knew how much more of my dull wretchedness was 
owing to mental than to bodily sufferings. The ex- 
ception was Doctor Bidaut. His patients occupied his 
time too fully for him to be able to give much of it to 
me, so that his daily visits were short, and often he was 
accompanied by strange doctors, who asked the same 
questions, and made the same comments before me. I 
must be patient a little longer. A little longer, when I 
was not patient at all ! I never knew what I know 
now, that Doctor Bidaut with his large experience had 
guessed at a great many of the troubles which be- 
wildered me. I believed him, though most kind, to be 
taken up only with his professional claims. But one 
April morning, when a consciousness of the outer stir 
and gaiety of a spring day had added to my discontent 
within, he came up to my room, and dismissing the 
patient Pauline, sat down by my sofa, and announced 
that he was come for a talk. I was so resolved to make 
the most of this unlooked-for opportunity, that in answer 
to his first question 

" Well, Marguerite " (though he spoke in English, 
he always gave the French pronunciation to my name), 
" how do you find yourself?" I replied with another. 

" How much longer must I be here, Doctor Bidaut ?" 

" In your tower ? Do you know, Marguerite, that 


up here yon look very like an enchanted princess, wait- 
ing to be released from a spell !" 

His tone was bantering, and it provoked me because 
I felt so dreadfully in earnest myself; he began again, 
however, in a moment. 

" We will talk of that by and by. Are you tired of 
us all ?" 

" JSTot tired, only " 


" Everybody is very kind, bnt I want to get home. 
You see, Doctor Bidaut, I have been thinking since J 
lay here and and " I made a violent effort and pro- 
ceeded. " I am fifteen, and Aunt Elizabeth used to say 
I had been nothing but a plague, and now I want to 
set to work and begin a new life." I felt this very 
hard to say, but I thought he would understand, and 
perhaps help me. 

" Yes," he repeated slowly, " a new life. Have you 
ever thought, Marguerite, of what life is made up ?" 

" Days, and hours, and moments, I suppose." 

" Well, child, and the moments are passing now, 
passing for ever, and life slips by us while we are 
plotting and planning for future hours ; and one day we 
shall wake up and find it gone. The present is our 

" No, no !" I cried out passionately, " not for me. 
This is existing, not living!" 

" Hush !" he said gravely, "your Bible should teach 
you something different to that. Is not suffering one 
way of bearing the cross ?" 

He silenced me for a moment, then I went on more 
quietly : " I did not mean about the pain ; I want to 
work, and what can one do here ?" 


" Ah !" he answered cheerfully, " we have come to the 
question now ; but do you know, Marguerite, the hardest 
battles of life have been fought on a couch like yours." 

Something in his words struck me. " Doctor Bidaut, 
am I never to get better ?" 

"God knows!" he said, very gravely, "we do not 
think you will ever be able to get about much again." 

I turned my face away that he might not see the 
great tears which would come welling up. Could it be 
true ? Was everything at an end for me ? Four walls 
and a sofa. Oh, what a dreary, dreary, impossible life 
it seemed ! I thought my burden was too heavy to bear. 
Doctor Bidaut went on again, and I knew by his tone 
how he felt for me. 

" You have a brave spirit, Marguerite, I think it 
better you should know the worst and face it, than wear 
your life out with restless expectations, as you have 
been doing lately. Child, it is hard to bear, only it is 
His will ; try and make it your own also. You will be a 
worker even here ;" he put his hand on the sofa, " you 
have yourself to conquer, and patience for a prize to win." 

" Patience !" I said despairingly. It seemed such a 
miserable inducement, such a little gain, after all the 
bright visions that throng the mind when life is just 

" Yes, patience. It stands high up in St. Peter's list of 
virtues does it not, Marguerite ? Set to work cheerily 
do not think that God has put you aside because He 
has taken you a little out of the world. ' They also 
serve who only stand and wait ;' is not that what your 
grand poet says ?" 

His words inspired me with a better heart, but I 
wanted to know more. 


" Why am I never to be any better ?" 

" I did not quite say that, but your back received r.u 
injury that day on the ice which it is scarcely possible can 
ever be cured entirely. You may be able to move a little 
more than at present, it is by no means unlikely ; only " 

" I must make up my mind to be a helpless burden 
all my life," I said, bitterly, " and all through my own 
folly. What will mamma do ?" 

" Marguerite, my dear child, do not speak so," he 
said, kindly ; " it would have been worse if you had 
gone on growing utterly careless and heedless. Look 
at it as a merciful check, and remember what is left to 
you mind, eyesight, fingers " 

" Ah ! I can draw," I interrupted ; " perhaps I can do 
something yet. Doctor Bidaut, when may I go home ?" 

"Very soon," he said after a pause; "your mother 
wants to have you." 

"Does she know?" 

" Yes, all know." 

"Ah! that accounts," and I fell into a deep fit of 
musing, in which he let me be uninterrupted. When I 
looked up I met his eye, clear, keen, and full of kindli- 
ness. I pnt my hand in his. 

" I expect it will be horribly hard, but I am going to 
try, Doctor Bidaut." 

" That is well said, men amie ; we must be trying all 
our lives, only not in our own strength." He went on 
in French, and more to himself than to me. " The road 
is rough, but the end is glorious, and many before us 
have pressed on to the goal. Courage ! their Help will 
be our Help too !" 



IN a little time I was taken home, as Doctor Bidaut 
had promised I should be, but before I left his house I 
had followed his advice, and tried to begin my " new 
life " without waiting for imaginary periods. Ah ! I 
found my old self in my new life after all, my old hasty 
temper and imperious will which were to be tamed into 
the patience I once despised, and rebellious longings 
which often surged up and drove me to beat like a bird 
against the bars of my prison. But I did struggle 
now I was not contented to give way ; I learnt to think 
a little of the feelings of others, and to be grateful for 
kindness to myself. And so much was shown to me ! 
Pauline, the most tender and unselfish of nurses, who 
had borne all my fretfulness with never-failing for- 
bearance, I began day by day to find out what she wa&, 
and to read the true beauty of her character. We made 
arrangements for constant meetings, when she was to 
teach my long fingers some delicate embroidery, and I 
was to help her in German. She confided to me that, 
longing to be more of a companion to her father, she 
had always envied my attainments ; and I acknowledged 
in return, how greatly I had disliked her because she 
was held up as a pattern of goodness. 

"Poor mamma!" said Pauline, laughing, " she has 
always tried so hard to think me a genius, but papa 
knew better!" 

" You have a genius for kindness, Pauline," I said, 

" Do you think so ? "Well, who knows ? nursing 
may be my vocation after all." 


" And lying still, mine." 

"Yes," she said, simply, "every one has something 
different ; but that is no reason, Margie, why you should 
choose your pillows to be crooked and uncomfortable. 
Let me shake them up ; my father says we can always 
make the best or the worst of things." 

And her practical matter-of-fact nature was a capital 
balance for mine, always too prone to run away with 
romantic and exaggerated ideas. 

They made a little fete day of my return. Barbara 
dressed up the house with branches, and Trinette baked 
enough cakes to last for a week. There was no room 
for the bitterness which I made up my mind I should 
feel at coming home a helpless burden ; indeed, after my 
mother had recovered from the first sad pang which it 
naturally caused her, I think we were rather merry than 
otherwise, Pauline exerting herself unusually, and Bar- 
bara bent on showing off various accomplishments 
which she had learnt in my absence. 

" Isn't this a pretty mat, Margie ? I did it, fringe 
and all, and it is to stand in your room always. I go to 
a day-school now you see, Margie, but I do wish they 
would have the Miss Primroses there for the reading ; 
what we do isn't half such good fun." 

" Can't I save that, at all events ?" I asked, looking 
at my mother. 

She hesitated and seemed distressed. 

" My dear, I don't quite know, it might be too much 
for you, and, besides, your Aunt Elizabeth seems to 
think you scarcely know enough ; Barbara wants regular 
training now, you see, my dear love." 

I had learnt to bear Aunt Elizabeth's name by this 
time, and I acknowledged to myself that she mighfc be 


righfc. My own knowledge was too desultory andun- 
shaped for me to be fit even to teach a child of eight years 
old. Well, I was resolved that this should be improved ; I 
would work away with a good will until I had learnt 
enough to save the expense of Barbara's school. 

Another check ! I worked too hard, lost my appe- 
tite, grew weaker, and was ordered by Dr. Bidaut to lay 
aside books, and be idle. How I grumbled at this ! but 
he only smiled his quaint smile, and said, 

" Luckily, Marguerite, you may still work for patience 
without its affecting your health." 

Ah ! I had many a lesson to learn, and fits of sad 
depression, because it seemed to me that I was always 
failing where I had most tried ; and I hated myself the 
more because so much thought and kindness was shown 
me, never varying, however ungratefully it was received. 

I have very little more to say : the life upon which I 
look back, though it has its story to me, would* seem 
dreary and uneventful to those who take active parts in 
the busy stir of the world. From my little niche I have 
looked on, and learnt something, but it has been by 
watching and waiting. 

We lived on at Brussels for ten years, and then came 
the first break up of our little party, my pretty Barbara 
married. I can see now her sweet April face on the 
morning when she knelt down by my side, buried her 
head in my lap, and told me to guess what had happened. 
Ah ! I was not long in doing that, I had felt sure from 
almost the first that Mr. Matson loved my darling, and 
had tried to keep back the selfish pang which came when 
I thought that our sunshine would be stolen away, and 
to love him for her dear sake. But when I smoothed 


her bright Lair, and whispered that I supposed she was 
to he turned into a little English parsoness, she started 
up eagerly, with her face all aglow 

" No, no, no, Margie, I have told him that I like him 
very much, and I couldn't help doing that, because, poor 
fellow, he seemed so dismal when he thought I didn't ; 
but we are not to think about being married. Why, 
what do you suppose you could do without me, you poor 
dear old Mrs. Patience ? Margie, Margie," and the tears 
streamed down her sweet face, " do you think I would 
ever leave you, when it was all through me that your 
life was blighted !" 

Well, before very long we had settled all that. Mr. 
Matson was not a person to be satisfied with half pos- 
sessions, but as Barbara persisted in her resolution not 
to be separated, it followed that we went with her to her 
English home. Not to the same house, but to a cot- 
tage in the parish where her husband was perpetual 
curate, a tiny spot, which a great jessamine and a Vir- 
ginian creeper have taken under their especial protec- 
tion, and converted into a bower. 

I would rather not say anything of our Brussels part- 
ings. Pauline is married to a Belgian, and is a pattern 
wife and mother. I should be only too glad if Aunt 
Elizabeth would come to Trenton, though it were in the 
identical green silk that I so detested in old days, and she 
and Dr. Bidaut really talk of coming one day to see me. 

For I am alone now ; my dear mother has gone to 
her rest in the quiet churchyard of which I can just see 
a corner from my favourite window. At first it was 
very bitter, but the sorrow was all for myself, and it is 
but something more given me for which to wait patiently. 
I am never lonely, and have much to occupy me. I have 


a faithful maid, and she and I have always one of Bar- 
bara's over-grown schoolgirls in hand, whom we teach 
to be a servant : we have quite a family of these girls 
out in the world, and I am very thankful to possess such 
an interest, and to feel that even the most helpless may 
do a little. Living is dearer in England than in Brus- 
sels, and when we first came over we found it hard work 
to get on ; so I turned my old drawing-lessons to ad- 
vantage, and I have generally quite as much as I can 
manage to do in the way of illustrating books, with all 
sorts of nice inventions at hand, to make it easy to me, 
as I lie on my sofa. Barbara and Barbara's children are 
here every day, and there is one little brown- eyed 
maiden, my godchild, whom I sometimes hope her mo- 
ther will spare to me altogether. 

Looking back, I can see the blessings of my life, how 
rich they have been, though often coming in sorrowful 
disguise. The years have been full of failures and short- 
comings, but the Hand that upheld me was very pitiful, 
and the patience which once seemed so far off, I humbly 
hope has now come to be my friend. Struggles and 
suffering are not over ; how should they be ? but while 
He sees fit for them to last I can hold on my way with 
a cheerful spirit, " Faint, yet pursuing." 

Note ly another Hand. I have been reading over 
Margie's remembrances, and I feel quite sure that those 
who do the same without knowing her as I do will have 
no idea of what she is, or of what she has suffered. The 
pain is sometimes terrible, but she bears it beautifully, 
and seems only intent upon hiding its sharpness from 
those she loves. She speaks of having been impatient 


at first, I do not know, I can hardly remember her so; 
but if it was tbe case, I can only say that since then she 
has borne years of pain and confinement with the noblest 
heroism. She has so much energy and determination of 
spirit that one can hardly realize that her body is almost 
helpless, and she throws herself into our joys or troubles 
with the heartiest sympathy and forgetful ness of self. 
Many have told me what I feel myself, that the best les- 
sons of their life have been taught them by Margie's sofa, 
and ray husband, whose praise is worth having,. says he 
thinks her character the most beautiful he knows. Her 
drawings are admirable ; the children carry in to her 
great wreaths of creepers or flowers when they come 
back from their walks, and she illustrates books and 
poems with them in all manner of quaint, fanciful de- 
vices. She does not like us to speak of her lot as a hard 
one, my dear brave old Margie! and, indeed, I feel 
sure she must be happy, for her brown eyes, with all 
their brightness, have a look of peace down deep within 
them, which always seems to us like the light which 
" shineth more and more unto the perfect day/' 





QOMEWHERE about the month 
^ of May, iii the year 1860, 
sundry people who lived, in the ancient city of Hulme, 
in one of the eastern counties of England, had their 
curiosity excited by the appearance of a respectable 
elderly gentleman, very trimly shaven, and neat in 
all respects ; rather short and stout ; his hair, what 
there was of it, perfectly white ; his countenance kindly, 
but grave and sad ; he was observed peeping into odd 
corners, as if with a certain familiarity, yet continually 
starting, as if he found something unexpected there. 

A look of surprise sometimes crossed his coun- 
tenance, as he looked up at some of the names over the 
large shops in the market-place. He seemed to be 
seeking for old acquaintances. Once or twice only, he 
made an exclamation, when he saw a name lie kne-vf 
Some one said he entered a shop it was that of i 
firm engaged in the druggist business, which used to 


be old Drake's and went eagerly tip to the shopman to 
inquire for the principal. A smart, middle-aged man 
came forward the stranger shook his head. 

" Perhaps, sir, you would like to see my father. I 
am sorry to say, he is very infirm, and lives in the 

" Oh, indeed ! and you are his son, then ?" 

" Yes, sir ; can I have the pleasure of mentioning 
your name to my father ?" 

The stranger again shook his head. 

" No, I don't think he knew me. I left Hulme full 
fifty years ago. But, pray, sir, can you tell me anything 
about the people I used to know best here ?" And he 
named a string of names. Five or six physicians, as 
many surgeons, clergymen to no end, principal shop- 
keepers, manufacturers, editors of provincial papers ; a 
shake of the head followed the mention of them all. 

" What ! all gone ? impossible, surely ! Why, some 
were younger than myself." A thought struck him the 
ladies ! What pretty girls there were once in Hulme ! 

"Pray, what is become of Alderman Hughes' 
handsome daughter ?" 

" Sir, she is a blind old lady, living with a lame 
brother in the Close." 

" Did she never marry, then ?" 

" Ko, sir, she was blind before she was thirty." 

" And Miss Gates ?" 

" What ! the daughters of the Rev. Jeremiah Grate ? 
They went, one to America, and the other to New 

" And that pretty, merry Miss Hopkins ?" 

" You can't mean the Quaker lady, Sarah Hopkins, 
who died last year?'* 


" A Quakeress ! why, how came that about ?" 

" Well, sir, she was tired of a gay life, I suppose, 
and she liked the Friends. She was a right down good 
woman, and ' thee'd ' and ' thon'd ' quite nat'ral." 

" It's a strange world," muttered our traveller. 
" Change without and change within. That does not 
change, however," continued he glancing toward the 
cathedral. " Nor those," looking at another old church 
or two. 

Something about the old gentleman interested the 
chemist. " You must have known us, well, a while ago, 
sir," said he. 

" Why, yes I was born here, certainly something 
more than seventy years ago, and I had some fresh, 
long young years of life in your town, my friend. Is 
the free school going on well now ?" 

" Well, I don't know much about it, there are new 
schools that cut it out ; but there it is, kept in the same 
old room." 

" Ah ! and the palace ?" 

"Well, you know we have had several bishops; 
within not many years the palace has been refitted and 
made newer." 

" I beg your pardon, I am keeping you a long time." 

" No inconvenience to speak of, sir. Can I tell you 
anything more ?" 

" No, thank you," with a weary sigh. " Oh, yes ! 
about your city elections : how do they go on ?" 

" Quite quiet, thank you, sir." 

"Quiet! a Hulme election quiet! How c^mthatbe?" 

"Why, you know, sir, the reform bill changed all 
that ; the votes are taken in half a dozen places ; we don't 
fight now, sir." 


* But you chair the members still, surely ?" 

" No, sir, haven't this long time." 

" Bless me ! how stnpid it must be. Why, I r* 
member when you could not hear St. Saviour's bellj^ 
even, for the noise of the people." 

" All at an end, sir, however." 

" Well, at least, I hope you're all better men. But, 
now, will you just direct me to the inn I wanted to find, 
the ' Rose and Crown.' It used to be one of the best." 

" You won't be comfortable there, sir ; it is nothing 
but a pothouse. If you take my advice, you'll go to 
the ' Star,' or the ' Royal Arms,' or the 'Victoria,' or the 
' Copenhagen Hotel ;' any of them are good." 

" Thank you, let it be the oldest, if you please." 

" Well, sir, the ' George,' then, that's very respecta- 
ble, near the cathedral, sir/' 

" Excellent good-morning to you." And the old 
gentleman went his way; and the landlady of the 
" George," afterwards reported that he was quite moved 
in talking with her of old times, and that she had found 
out who he was; her grandfather used to know his father, 
and he had left her a sort of account of the family 
as they used to be ; written, she said, in a small, neat 
upright hand, quite clerkly and particular. She 
wanted to show him some of the improvements in 
Hulme ; but he shook his head, and said they were 
not improvements to him, he must get away as soon as 
he could, and so he went off, next morning, to Rivers- 
mouth, where he was to take steamer (so he said) 
to London, and she doesn't believe anybody in Hulme 
will ever see that old gentleman again, and I do not 
myself believe that they will ; but what he left behind, 
we may as well read. 


THE ancient city of Hulme used to bo a famous place 
so some think it still ; I was born there, and I loved 
it, and always shall love it. It was one of those towns in 
which we are specially struck at every turn with the 
sense of great contrasts. A grand old cathedral, 
whose architectural details range over several centuries, 
and whose newest part is venerable ; a still older 
castle, walls broken down in many places, of very un- 
certain outline, yet picturesque in their ruins; towers 
of many handsome churches ; massive gateways and 
arches. Take account of all these, and any city that 
possesses them possesses the elements of something 
great and noble ; but for all that, the city itself may be, 
on the whole, mean and vulgar. There were very few 
handsome dwelling-houses or good streets in Hulme. 
Nothing of the alliance one sees in some continental cities 
between commercial purposes and fine architecture. 

I do not know why our English towns, which have 
taken rank very early in the commerce of Europe, 
should be so deficient in the outward signs of wealth 
and grandeur in their streets and civic buildings. But 
there is scarcely a city among us that has a really fine 
old town hall ; nothing, at least, to compare with the 


Hotels de Ville at Ghent, or Louvain, or Rouen ; nor, 
except very rarely, do you find a private house in such 
places with lofty gables and carved decorations, as abroad. 
Our largest old public halls are mostly cribbed out of 
monasteries, and have never acquired the loolc of appro- 
priateness visible in the foreign buildings I have 
visited, because they were not built for the same 

There are generally, I think, some one or two charac- 
teristics in a city population, caught from the more 
marked aspects of the place they grow up in. Thus I 
have always fancied that Hulme, with its few grand 
redeeming objects and its general look of mediocrity 
and shabbiness, must have done a good deal towards 
making its people what they have been during the 
greater portion of their more modern history. I remem- 
ber it best in the early part of the present century. I 
was born ten years before it began, but have little 
trace in my mind of anything previous to 1798. 
The people were on the whole, I believe, vulgar. 
There was a twang on their tongues; not the full 
rich, round, and deep sound which prevails in some 
parts of England; but meagre and curtailed. Middle 
syllables in particular never had any chance of getting 
a hearing. You might stand in the market-place at 
Hulme for an hour, and not guess that the English 
language was formed of anything longer than two 
syllable words. The h, too, was very uncertain in its 
position, and the letter r was the worst treated in the 
alphabet, if it came at the end of a word, being in- 
variably sounded as if the unhappy word ended in AW. 

I should not be a true-born Holme 'man if I did 
not believe from the bottom of my heart that there 


never wasatown like our own Hulme. I can't hear even 
now the sound of its name I can't catch up a few 
7/ords even of its vulgarest dialect, without a start, 
without a rush of warmth to my heart, and may be, 
now and then, a tear to my eye. I think there is some- 
thing remarkable in this attachment, for I do not find it 
at all in the same degree in many other places, and it is 
nearly universal with regard to Hulme. My father used 
to say he thought it was because our town lay out of 
the way of the great thoroughfares of traffic, that we 
were not looked upon as merely meant to be passed by ; 
but that those who came to us, came really for objects 
in which we ourselves were concerned. Our native 
manufactures, our antiquities, our local customs, were 
their objects ; of course we also thought ourselves worth 
the trouble of a visit, so that we had something of the 
John Bull within the ordinary Bull-ism a double por- 
tion of headiness and self-admiration. 

My father's station in this world of Hulme was a 
middle one. There were many grades above, and several 
below him, and he had the good sense to know his place 
and keep it, though in his inmost mind he might 
sometimes hope that his children would rise, at any 
rate, a ring or two above him in the social ladder. 
He was the head warehouseman and manager of one 
of the best manufactories of Hulme goods (that of a 
Mr. Goodwin), worsted, fancy goods, etc. and in 
that position he had a double part to play, having 
to give out materials to the workmen, to see to 
the measuring, the quality and quantity of the work- 
all done at home by the weavers ; when it came back, 
to distribute the payments, which the masters awarded 
according to his report ; thus to exercise no unimportant 


influence over the comfort of many scores sometimes 
many hundreds of operatives and their families ; while 
he was accountable to the heads of the house for all the 
valuable materials sent out and returned (worked up) 
through his hands. He had also to contract with the 
dyers, particularly the dyers in black, who all lived near 
the river. Also, and what we should first have men- 
tioned, he had much to do with the woolcombers, who 
had their dealings with the spinners of the yarn, which 
was only then beginning to be done in any large quan- 
tity by machinery, a very great proportion being spun 
by women and children by hand in the country villages. 

Thus, my father's department was one of great im- 
portance, and to have a trusty, skilful manager was the 
grand object of desire among the manufacturers. 

There was only one partner in our firm. Mr. G-ood- 
'.vin chose to keep all in his own hands, with the excep- 
tion of the share allotted to his partner Briggs, by no 
means an equal one. He preferred keeping the busi- 
ness at a manageable point, and, perhaps, my father was 
made the more of, and treated with the confidence 
almost of a friend. The junior partner, Mr. Briggs, 
had a great deal to do out of the town of Hulme. He 
bought the raw silks required, he had large dealings in 
Spitalfields, and he it was who travelled all over England 
and the Continent for us. He went (when Bonaparte 
allowed him) to Spain, sold large cargoes of black 
camlets made by us for the monastic orders, for we 
Hulme people half clothed the ecclesiastics. "We also 
made delicately fine materials for mourning ; and 
the mantillas of the Spanish ladies often came out 
of Hulmo warehouses. But not then, nor for some years 
after, were our goods much noted for beauty and variety. 


Sober industry rather than taste was the quality 
which reigned at Hulme. Schools of design were not 
then thought of, and yet rich and costly shawls were 
early made here. 

Many of the citizens of Hulme bore names which 
marked a foreign origin. Some had a DE prefixed to 
them our own, for instance which was De Carle. In 
fact, every one knows that the Flemish and Dutch Pro- 
testants had taken refuge from religious persecution in 
many of the eastern parts of England, and had been 
welcomed by our sovereigns. Queen Elizabeth had given 
them a Church in Hulme all to themselves, and there the 
Walloon ministers were partly pensioned by the Royal 
Dame, who, though she had no pity for any of her 
English-born subjects who evinced an attachment to the 
Puritan ritual, was very tender to foreign Dissenters. 

These artizans did capital service to Hulme. They 
brought their own habits of patient industry, and I am 
persuaded also their sturdy independence. They were 
thought to have brought in a fondness too for gardens 
and flowers, always a conspicuous taste in Hulme. 

I remember a great many of these French or Flemish 
names among our people, some of them clipped and 
altered, Hulme fashion ; but in my time none of the 
people who bore them cared to retain any other trace 
of their origin. They were all Hulme men and 
women, and when we were at war with France, I am 
sure they were not at all behindhand in rancour and 
bitterness. We had several imported emigres, too, who 
by their dreadful stories of the French revolution atro- 
cities, stimulated the young, and the less instructed espe- 
cially, in their feelings of horror for the French, while 
there were not wanting some people even in Hulme 


who by no means condemned the Revolution as a "whole, 
but only lamented its excesses. 

I shall have to come back to some peculiarities of 
our city ere long, but our own household must now 
have its place. 



AND first for my parents. Besides that my father's 
long continuance in his position proved the esteem in 
which his character was held, my recollection brings 
him to me as a sensible, and, for his station, an instructed 
man. I think that which helped very much in raising 
him above almost all the men I remember in his line of 
business, was the friendship of Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin. 
They were really people of the highest character ; they 
were not without prejudices, but their moral tone was 
so elevated, that these did not interfere, I suppose, very 
much with their line of conduct. Of course my father 
and mother, being much below them in birth and early 
advantages, and being in fact quite subordinates in 
business, consulted their employer with some defe- 
rence, upon any point on which they needed advice; 
and it was seen at once that they asked it with a real 
wish to profit by it, and not for the sake of merely talking 
over their affairs. It was owing partly to these free 
consultations of my father and Mr. Goodwin, that we 
were brought up better than many of our neighbours. 
It was a great help to have our whole position over- 
looked by some one who, standing higher than ourselves, 
saw how the world was going on, and what would be 
best for us on the whole ; what sort of education would 


probably be most useful, and what we had better keep 
in view ; but I don't think either my father or mother 
would have been guided thus, had Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin 
been mere worldly people. It was because they honoured 
their motives, their characters, their whole career ; and 
my father was a religious man, though he and Mr. Good- 
win did not take the same views on some points, for my 
Miner, perhaps inheriting something from his Walloon 
ancestors, liked the style of Dissenting worship ; though, 
led by my mother's steady attachment to the Church, 
and agreeing with her in love to its doctrines, he always 
attended her once a day to our parish church, and only 
occasionally worshipped with an independent congrega- 
tion. The clergyman and the Dissenting minister were 
not unfriendly. They each visited us. We were, how- 
ever, all of us baptized, and in due time confirmed, in 
the church. Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin were themselves 
steady church-goers, and stood sponsors to one or two 
of us. 

My dear mother was for all that time of her life which 
I remember best a sufferer from spinal disease. She 
was never able to go beyond the church, or to some near 
neighbour's ; or in summer, which was a great delight,to 
Mrs. Goodwin's beautiful garden. 

She never gave up her place, however, as directress of 
the household. From the low couch, where mostly- she 
lay, she issued her orders. Her faithful Molly, the 
young maid-of-all-work, the active, incessant woman of 
business, who was brought up by my mother, took these 
orders, and executed them ; but we knew from whence 
they came, and felt sure that my mother knew every- 
thing about us, nearly as well as if she had followed us 
from place to place; and I do not think anybody 


doubted that Mrs. De Carle's household was kept in as 
much order as any other in Hulme. 

But you want to know something of our smaller 
selves. My two elder brothers were twins, as unlike 
as twins usually are. Lawrence tall and thin, Dick 
short and stout ; Lawrence a very handsome boy, Dick 
plain; Lawrence somewhat nighty, Dick plodding, 
steady as time ; Lawrence all on fire about whatever was 
going on in our outward world ; Dick rather absorbed 
in matters of natural history ; in chemistry, having his 
museum of quaint curiosities, in fossils and in anti- 
quarian relics. A sister came next, Rachel by name. 
We had had a brother and sister ; who had both died 
in infancy. Then I myself appeared I was named 
Matthew- my birth placing me five years below my 
twin brothers. Lastly one little pet girl. Margaret. 
Here you have us all. 



MY recollection takes me back to a part only of 
Lawrence's and Dick's school- days, but that part stands 
out very clear. I never was with them at the Free 
School; but being ambitious, and anxious, above all 
things, to be somebody in our little world, I listened 
with open ears to all their stories of school doings, 
warmed up at the history of their battles, and devoutly 
shared all Lawry's strong likes and dislikes, and party 
notions. Blended with all these, was the impression I 
derived from my intercourse with the only constant com- 
panion of my early years, my sister Rachel. Neither 
she nor I had, in fact, anybody else to play with and 
talk with. She was older than myself, by more than 
three years ; consequently her reading was of a more 
varied kind, and she made more of it than most girls 
could, because she had a thoughtful, poetical turn. She 
told stories capitally; she had grand notions, drawn 
from ancient history, of heroism and patriotism, and 
what men and even boys might be, and she lifted me up 
with her strong words, and made me feel something of 
a hero in spirit. She shared my admiration for Law- 
rence, but not to the same extent ; he did not satisfy her ; 


his tone, she sometimes said, looking wise, was not high 
enough. I did not understand her, however, but I was 
made romantic to some extent by her. 

Every now and then Lawrence brought home, on 
holiday afternoons, some of his friends among the boys 
What glorious afternoons those were ! Especially if the 
party of boys did not start off at once, to a great dis- 
tance, for a country walk, as, in summer, they were apt 
to do, or take boat on the river, or go out to bathe ; in 
which cases I was not allowed to accompany them, and 
had to stay with Rachel at home. But if the weather 
was bad, or it was winter time, we had capital doings 
on the premises ; for the range of buildings attached to 
our house was long and large, and, if we did not intrude 
upon the counting-house or weighing-rooms, we had 
liberty to play, or read, or speechify in an unused room. 
It was there that Lawrence one day got up a grand mock 
trial of a recreant school-boy, one who should have been 
a " blue," and was suspected of turning " purple." This 
notable piece of poetical justice was executed just after 
one of our city elections, when the boys of the Free 
School were particularly stirred up, and were all, accord- 
ing to the part taken by their parents, either Whigs 
(Blues), or Tories (Purples). 

I remember, as well as if it were yesterday, the scene. 
A great heavy, fat boy, Mott, was seated as judge ; the 
jury was made up, as well as time and space allowed, of 
small and great ; I myself being one, with Rachel and 
little Maggy. Lawrence was the lawyer for the pro- 
secution, and Dick was ordered, against his will, to 
plead, which he did feebly enough, for the defendant, 
who was a man of straw, got up for the occasion, stuffed 


into one of the oldest coats that was to be found, ant? 
turned in the most ignominious manner, hung round 
with bits of purple ribbon. 

How Lawrence did rant and rave, and throw his 
arms about, and look virtuous and indignant, and hurl 
out the big words of patriotism, freedom, citizenship, 
and so on ! How grand I thought him ! I, one of the 
smallest of the impannelled jury, clapped with all my 
might, after a burst of eloquence, and thought it a 
shameful thing that the fat boy, who sat as judge, 
cried "silence!" and forbade "all expressions of ap- 
plause," which virtuous and impartial conduct Rachel 
highly approved. 

Then Dick got up to speak in defence, and but that 
he was my own dear brother Dick, could I not have 
hissed him ! I thought it so downright mean in him to 
speak a word for a Purple, especially a Purple who had 
been a Blue ; but it was a great comfort that he had very 
little to say, and that that little was dull and quiet ; how 
unlike the burning eloquence of Lawrence ! 

Then the judge charged, delivering a striking oration 
in praise of consistency in political principles ; and then, 
before he had done, the jury, all but Rachel, roared out 
"guilty," without waiting to be asked; and the judge, 
with great dignity and solemnity, put on the cap and 
delivered sentence, which we in great fury executed 
on the straw man ; only we pulled him to pieces in 
our wrath, leaving absolutely nothing of him to be hung 
by the neck, till he was dead, dead, dead ! according 
to the sentence. 

So, you will see, I was not likely to go to the Free 
School without my prejudices, and so, in fact, all Hulme 
boys did. Just during the years of my brothers' and 


*nv education, I believe these things might be at the 
"yery \vorst. There were many excellent men in Hulme, 
steady and independent, who resisted the tendency to 
turn everything into party matters, who would be friends, 
if possible, with the good of all parties j at all events, 
^v-ere respected by all, whether they visited at each 
others' houses or no ; but the prevailing idea among the 
politicans of our city, was that their own particular 
party must be upheld, and the other kept down, and 
they acted out this idea through all the connections of 
life. If a living was to be given away, if a small clerkship, 
if a poor man or woman wanted a place in an almshouse, 
if a boy was to be got into a charity or corporate school, 
if a broken-down tradesman was to be helped, then and 
there our worthy citizens were sure to make a battle 
about it. The Blues and the Purples rallied each around 
their respective standard. Livings, almshouses, pensions, 
schools, all were fought for, as if life and principle 
depended upon the contest. It mattered not much 
whether the people they took up or put down had any 
political opinions at all of their own, but it was a matter 
of connection. If the father's or uncle's vote was wanted 
by the Purples, he was promised by that party that his 
boy should have a place in the school, or that some 
relation should be put into an almshouse. Of course the 
Blues tried to outbid the Purples, and so the strife was 
brought down from high to low, from old to young. 
It would have often been ridiculous, if it had not been 
so sad. The head master of the Free School should of 
course have been chosen only for his learning and worth, 
but this was not the notion in Hulme, and there never 
was a sturdier fight than that between the two parties, 
not to get the lest man, but their own man. As it hap- 


pened, both candidates were deserving, though my father, 
for one, considered we had not got the very best, and 
when the head master came to appoint his ushers, he, of 
course, preferred those who would please his party. So 
that the Purples in our school carried everything before 
them, and my father, a moderate Blue, not choosing to 
lose the benefit of a good and cheap education for his 
sons, could only hope there would be no partiality shown 
in the treatment of the scholars themselves. 

And Lawrence and Dick always declared that there 
was not, at least not in school-hours. Blue boys and 
Purple boys learnt their lessons side by side. They 
were praised or punished according as they deserved, 
and as far as competition in learning was concerned, all 
was fair and generous. But when they turned out of 
school, then it was that the fights and chaffing began. 
Especially if there was any chance of a contested election, 
what a putting on and pulling off of cockades ; what 
brave attempts to carry banners ! It was really not 
always safe for quiet people to venture, into the Close at 
those times when the Free School boys were let loose. 
My father and mother were anxious enough, not that 
they feared for my brothers' safety, but they did not 
like their being involved so young in party broils. 
Dick was steady and sensible; and generally worked 
through, but Lawrence's fights were no joke, and he got 
into no end of trouble, and kept my father always at 
work settling matters with aggrieved boys' parents ; 
and he took Lawrence away sooner than Dick, partly on 
this account, partly because he wished to have him 
employed under his own eye. Mr. Goodwin, a kmd 
considerate employer, himself a Purple, but allowing 


more than was usual in Hulme to the conscience of a 
respectable independent man like my father, consented 
to his entrance into a sort of nondescript place in the 
department filled by the warehousemen, of whom ou? 
%ther was head. 



AS I have before said, I did not myself go to school till 
some little time after my brothers left. How well I 
knew its porch and door of entrance, however. Near it 
had I, a litfcle fellow, very recently inducted into jackets 
and trowsers, come occasionally for a walk with the 
maid and baby, and she had pointed out the awful door, 
and I had heard distinctly the hum of boys within, and 
occasionally the whizzing and thwacking of a cane on 
some idle boy's shoulders. What a tremendous thing ! 
what if that idle boy should be one of my brothers ! but 
no, it could not be, they were far too good for that. 
Then, as times went on, and I grew older, and was sent 
fco a preparatory school for little boys, I still, as my 
school quarters were not far from the Close, took a sly 
peep at the door before I returned home. It happened 
to me more than once to be knocked down by a bevy of 
rough day-boys, when I had ventured rather too far 
for the purpose of hailing my brothers. They picked 
me up and brushed the dirt off my clothes, but did not 
give me, not Lawrence at least, a very cordial reception. 
They seemed a little ashamed of me, very cool towards 
the small brother, especially if at a distance they caught 
a glimpse of the maid, who, with little Maggy, was to 
keep a look out for me on my homeward way, for then 


the big boys were sure to shout out that the three little 
Master De Carles were sent for by their mamma, and 
must walk home with the maid and baby. 

I meanwhile was of course impatient of being put to 
school to a woman, and yet it was no bad lot to be under 
the excellent Miss Grey, and I certainly owed much to 

her when, on my entrance at last into the Free School, I 
was found to have been thoroughly well grounded. 

Quiet and competent, a well-instructed woman her- 
self, conscientious, religious, wholly without cant, she 
plodded on, and made her scholars plod, not at all pro- 


fessing to turn work into play, bnt yet infusing spirit 
into it. I suppose if any one had asked whether Miss 
Grey was an entertaining teacher, the answer would 
have been an immediate, rather decisive, " No," and a 
smile too. But see what it is to have an intimate sense 
in one's-self of the good of work. She did manage, 
most certainly, to give us all the cheerful pleasure which 
she herself felt in conquering difficulties. Comparing 
her with some modern teachers who profess to make 
learning very amusing, she might not satisfy many. 
She would laugh her good-humoured laugh, and say, 
" Well, you know, when you teach a child to read, there 
are different ways of doing it. Some will give the word 
* B, a, t,' bat, accompanied by a pretty picture of a bat, 
and some very amusing stories. The same by ' d, o, g,' 
dog. Now, I own I think the fact of having got the 
knowledge of the word, and the letters composing it, is 
enough ; and if you manage it rightly, ifc is a good and 
pleasant thing to get these little pieces of knowledge for 
their own sake only ;" and so she went on to higher 
learning, giving a few absolute rules, not to be broken, 
and forming habits of order and arrangement in our 
minds. I made with her some good beginnings in gram- 
mar (Latin and English), in arithmetic, and geography, 
and she taught writing and reading well. We learnt 
our Catechism with her, too, and we always began the 
day by reading a short portion of Scripture ; and I do 
think we all liked it ; she was so well informed and so 
pleasant about it, and loved the Bible herself so very 
much, that we caught her tone unawares. In another 
way this sensible, good woman showed more firmness 
than the masters of the Free School. She absolutely 
put an end to our little demonstrations of partisanship, 


not at any moment, nor under any pretence, not even 
during the fun and mischief of a busy election, would 
she suffer any of us to bring a fragment of party colours 
to her house. Be it Blue, or be it Purple, all was in- 
stantly destroyed. " What a pity !" she would say. 
"Don't think I do not love colours. It is partly because 
I like them so very much that I can't let you little fel- 
lows make them into things to quarrel ever." 

I, for one, as I grew older, especially, did not find in 
Miss Grey any match for my fiery Brother Lawrence, 
Jind of course I grew impatient of petticoat government, 
and glad enough was I when my father told us at dinner 
one day that I was to enter the Free School after Easter. 
How my heart beat ! Lawrence, I remember, pre- 
dicted that I was not half plucky enough, and should 
come crying home every day for a week, which pre- 
diction I indignantly rejected. Rachel and I had many 
private conferences, and, as I remember, she said some 
clever and wise things, but, alack ! they were much too 
grand and too general, and did not touch the point. 
Lawrence used to laugh very irreverently at Rachel's 
wise saws. I am afraid he was sadly low in his code of 
schoolboy morality. He said she was making a spooney 
of me, and was a great deal worse than Miss Grey for 
Miss Grey had plain common sense, and was not foolish. 
Slie called a spade a spade, but Rachel was misty about 
it. My brother Dick, whcm I was very fond of, though 
he did not rule me as Lawrence did, was for the 
present provided for. His scientific turn led him into 
intimacy with a good chemist of our old city, a Mr. 
Drake, who was taken with the boy, and advised his 
being apprenticed to his own business, offering advan- 
tageous terms, with which my father had no objection 


to comply ; so while Lawrence went on all sorts of busi- 
ness for Mr. Goodwin, visited the weavers, the wharves, 
and even was sent occasionally some miles into the 
country to see how the stuffs ordered were going on, 
picking up all the time odd stores of manners and 
customs, and growing familiar with the habits of both 
country and town people, Dick handled pestle and 
mortar gravely, weighed ingredients accurately, studied 
prescriptions with slow caution, and made up pills and 
draughts with admirable neatness. 



I AM keeping you a long time from the Free School. At 
last, then, enter Matthew de Carle, age eleven, rather 
tall of his years, tolerably strong, light hair, sparkling 
bright eyes, a little hurried in his gait, turning into the 
room in a bustle, as if to get it over. One might have 
seen a lurking self-importance about his manner, and 
indeed it is true that he quite meant to be somebody. 
He meant, for instance, of course, to be a real staunch 
friend to every oppressed little Blue boy, to offer his 
services to the party heart and soul ; to be a worthy 
brother and successor to Lawrence and Dick. 

Now for the reality. As well as I remember, I was 
conscious chiefly of a broad stare from all the boys as a 
new comer ; of being hustled into a bad, cold corner, 
quite good enough for a new boy ; of being allowed very 
scant room to sit down : and of not knowing where to 
put my nice new cap, and my difficulty being obligingly 
helped out by a boy, who suggested, as the best place, 
the empty grate of the large fire-place, where no fire was 
now likely to be made for some time to come ; to which 
I objected on account of the soot. In due time I was 
called up to be examined and placed according to pro- 
ficiency ; and here I came off very fairly, and was pat at 
once higher than some much larger boys, on whom, un- 


luckily, I cast a look of triumph, which they returned 
by making horrible faces at me. I was vexed, but took 
the place and learnt my lesson, which occupied no long- 
time, for that first morning after the holidays was de- 
voted to examinations. 

At twelve o'clock we turned out, and that was my 
hour of happy anticipation. Alas ! what a disappoint- 
ment ! I hastened to introduce myself. I, Matthew de 
Carle, a Blue among Blues. Would you believe it ? 
the Blues would not have me ! they sneered, and said I 
was a raw little conceited fellow, who must be well taken 
down and taught manners. I was not big enough to 
fight my own battles, and what good could I do them. 
I must keep myself to myself, and grow a little taller, 
and not look such a prig, and perhaps I might one day 
be worth something. I meekly named " Lawrence and 
Dick de Carle my brothers." " Oh, yes ! they believed 
there had been such boys ONCE in the school. Was not 
Dick that old man who was bald, and wore a blue cotton 
handkerchief over his head to keep the cold off, as he 
sat pounding drugs at the corner of Drake's the chemist's 
shop ? and very like I was to him, to be sure ; and was 
not Lawrence the man who was taken up some time ago 
for sheep stealing ?" Did ever mortal hear of such indig- 
nities ? Of course I was in utter wrath and disdain, 
which made them chaff the more. It may be supposed 
that when Lawrence and Dick came home that evening, 
they eyed me with some curiosity. Truth is, I was much 
crest-fallen. To Rachel I was almost sulky ; to my 
brothers I gave a passionate account of what had passed. 
Lawrence laughed with might and main. " I told you 
so," he said ; "I was sure you had not got pluck enough ; 
but never mind, it will come in time. Stick tight to 


the Blues, civil or no." Dick showed greater sympathy, 
though he too was diverted at the caricature of himself, 
but privately he told me that he knew there were some 
very clever boys just now among the Purples, though 
Lawrence would not own it, and he added, " and good 
fellows, too, Matthew," which made me stare at Dick. 

Next day, as I passed the back window where Dick 
(though without the blue handkerchief) sat pounding 
his drugs, I felt revived by his kindly nod, and went on 
my way in good heart. Certainly I did grow a little 
more hardy as time went on. I learnt not so much 
to mind it, when I was tenderly and confidentially 
asked whether I had heard lately from my brother 
Lawrence at Botany Bay, and listened quietly to some 
observations about the old man at Drake's having 
changed his blue cotton handkerchief for a purple one 
but at this period of my experience I had come to 
have a mortal aversion to the whole generation of boys 
about me. I was foolish enough myself, no doubt, but 
in the way I had been brought up, with my mother, and 
Rachel, and Dick near at hand, and with Miss Grey's 
really refined sort of tone, I could not be vulgar and low, 
though I was but a warehouseman's son. Even Law- 
rence, who was far from nice in speech or manners, had 
the heart of a gentleman, and he was improving, because, 
in spite of the love of gossip and party spirit, he could 
not be contented without reading and picking up sound 
information, and he was noticed by clever men, who saw 
his intelligence, and wished to help him also ; and this I 
am quite clear about, fair judges must have seen that he 
had a clear, honest mind, except when mere party obscured 
his vision. I was very sensitive on one point, and un- 
luckily the boys found it out. Miss Grey had been par- 


ticular about my dialect, and as I really knew th-e right 
from the wrong, I was disposed to set my schoolfellows 
right too often, and when they questioned me as to my 
authority, I gave Miss Grey as a matter of course. You 
can fancy what an unfortunate move it was for me. 
Every sort of ridicule was thrown on my instructress 
and on me. Now, I had been quite alive to the degra- 
dation of remaining too long under a woman's teaching, 
but when it came to the point, and my own scholarship 
was involved, I quite forgot all this, and hurried on, 
vehemently defensive of Miss Grey, and all her doings. 

This made me more an outcast than before. In the 
bitterness of my soul I told Rachel that I hated school, 
and hated the boys, all of them. They were a set of 
vulgar, ill-behaved blackguards. This was strong; 
Rachel demurred. She was always slow in speech-; she 
seemed to be reasoning out her words as they came. 
She gave forth a sentence at last to the effect that the 
fault was, perhaps, partly mine; that I had set myself up 
too much at first. It so happened that Lawry, coming 
into the room, heard her say this. "Well done, Rachel," 
said he ; "I didn't think you had such sense. 'Tis the 
truth, depend upon it. Master Matthew has been 
giving himself grand airs, and the boys won't bear it : 
they'll give him a thrashing one day ; serve him right, 
too." So I was to have no pity at home, and no com- 
fort at school ; but it was not a bad thing for me. I 
begun by degrees to think less of myself, and to pay 
more honest attention to those about me. An oppor- 
tunity occurred of doing a civil thing for one of them, 
and having done it the best I could,! began to like him, 
and he took hugely to me. If we did not see what a 
wonderfully capricious thing popularity is everywhere, 


we might marvel more at a set of boys turning round 
in a short space of time, and making almost a favourite 
of me, but it was so ; and then followed, as an almost 
invariable sequence, the dangers of prosperity, and these 
were as great as those of unpopularity had been. It 
was so amazing to find myself made much of, I thought 
it a striking proof of my own merits. I was certainly a 
clever boy ; the masters had said so, and my moves 
upward had been rapid. 



BUT, above all, it was in my favour that there was 
just then a greater lull in party politics than had been 
known for some years in Hulme. There had been no 
contested election lately, no grand opportunities for 
Purples and Blues to signalize themselves. It seemed 
even doubtful whether an opposition would be stirred 
up, if by any circumstance one or both members were to 
be removed, or Parliament were to be dissolved. A 
compromise was much advocated. Parties were so 
nearly balanced, that except by the old work of bribing, 
or treating, or frightening, it was very well known that 
the town would be fairly represented by having two 
members of opposite politics. The violent on both 
sides did not like this, of course ; but as I have said, 
there was a lull, and all sensible, benevolent, quiet 
people wished the truce might last. 

It certainly was a good time for the Free School. 
We well nigh forgot our animosities, and fought, 
when we fought, good round battles, not for little bits of 
coloured ribbons, but for matters about which we 
could judge better. We played at soldiers, and 
it was not a mere idle game, but a serious, weighty 
truth, affecting all England more or less, that we might 
be called on very soon to repel a French invasion, for there 


was Bonaparte's camp pitched near Boulogne, watching 
us greedily, and he was ready with his eagles to swoop 
down upon us; and how could we boys, countrymen 
of our own Nelson, help being warmed and excited by 
the thought? So we learnt our exercises, and were 
drilled in martial style, and our elder brothers took then- 
turn, to march with their corps of volunteers, to guard 
the sea-coast, for two or three weeks at a time in suc- 

Lawrence went with one division, Dick with another, 
to Riversmouth, where they were to be quartered ; and 
how well I call to mind how handsome Lawrence looked 
in his regimentals " Ensign De Carle" he was called 
and how when he came back he told us all his adventures, 
especially about the Black Brunswickers, a band of 
brave men, who, under their chief, the Duke of Bruns- 
wick, had escaped through incredible hardships from 
the French, and had found a short resting-place on 
English shores. I sat by and heard Lawrence tell of 
their black uniforms, the white death's-head and cross- 
bones on their caps, and their remarkably youthful looks, 
which had struck him particularly ; for he said many of 
them were mere boys, with fair long hair twisted round 
their heads ; yet they were well-proved soldiers. 

Lawrence told us, too, how he had seen them devouring 
barley-sugar, and all the sweet things they could get, 
just like children in the shops. I suppose it was a home 
indulgence, and these poor fellows, who had long been 
deprived of every luxury, found the confectioners' shops 
their greatest temptation. 

Well, as I tell you, all this was a diversion and 
improvement on the mere 'party battles we had had 
before, and I went on growing and getting on in school ; 


but then came, at the last year of my school life, all at 
once a terrible outburst, the worst, every one said, that 
ever was known in Hulme. It was a furiously-contested 
city election. For weeks beforehand the old town seemed 
to have gone mad ; from the bottom ring of the social 
ladder to the top it was a fearful fight, and of course we 
Free- School lads were in the thick of it. The masters 
checked us. Not only we were not allowed to show 
colours in the schools, but a rule was made and 
strongly enforced against carrying on our battles in 
the Close. We had plenty of other places of meeting, 
however, but we got into sad scrapes during those weeks. 
We took it into bur wise heads to persecute two or three 
obnoxious persons whom we fancied had behaved ill to 
us. There was one old gentleman to whom the Purple 
boys bore a spite because he had informed against them 
for breaking his window a mere accident only as he 
was a Blue, his information was enough to anger the 
Purples ; and it was not difficult to make the old gentle- 
man's life a little uncomfortable by bribing organ-boys 
and serenaders of all kinds to keep up a constant 
series of noises under his windows. And then there was 
a certain rather great lady, the widow of a dean, whom 
the Blues specially disliked because she had complained 
of their rudeness and uproar as they came rushing 
out of the precincts, once all but knocking her, the 
Honourable Mrs. Plummer herself, down. Now, though 
a Blue, I did manage to keep clear of plots against Mrs. 
Plummer. My mother knew her, and she was a par- 
ticular friend of Miss Grey ; and, besides, I declared once 
for all, I would have nothing to say to any Blues who 
waged war against a woman. So I knew nothing about 
the matter, and hoped it was all at an end. It was not, 


however, but it proved to be harmless spite enough, 
though it made her very angry. 

The old lady gave nice, select supper parties, and 
our boys found out when the next was to be. Near her 
house (which was in an ill-lighted corner) a pile of 
bricks, and some mortar had been left by the workmen 
who were repairing a neighbouring dwelling. It was 
proposed to build Mrs. Plummer and her guests up as 
soon as they were assembled, and I believe the work was 
cleverly executed. The front doorway was filled up by 
roughly-executed masonry, and when the hour of dis- 
persion came the guests found no means of exit 
except through the kitchen and scullery ; where to 
the infinite diversion of some of the concealed cul- 
prits, the greatest of our city magnates, and certain 
Canons, with their ladies, were obliged to take their 
departure most in gloriously. The joke had of course 
a high savour ; but the secret was well kept, and 
never, I fancy, divulged. The barricade was cleared 
away by workmen before the Honourable Mrs. Plum- 
mer's breakfast hour, and it was only whispered in Blue 
circles to what an indignity the Purples had been sub- 
jected. Mrs. Plummer herself looked more stately than 
usual, but preserved a dignified silence. 



WELL, all this would not have mattered very much to 
me and my story ; but Lawrence unfortunately at that 
time got into disgrace with Mr. Goodwin ; worse still 
with his partner. Mr. Goodwin had up to this period 
been a very moderate Tory, but he had taken a turn ; he 
believed the Whigs to be dangerous to Church and State, 
and thought every true Englishman should be a Tory. 
He was far too just to impress my father on his side. He 
knew that he should not conquer in argument, for my 
father was extremely rigid in his notions of political 
honesty, and had his own fixed sentiments. Mr. Briggs 
would have dismissed him I believe ; but of course, as 
my father well knew, this idea was mere moonshine ; 
so he went about his work steadily. He voted against 
his employer, but made no bustle. 

It was otherwise with Lawrence. He signalized 
himself by taking part with two or three weavers, who 
were threatened by Briggs, their landlord, with being 
turned into the street if they voted for a Blue. Lawrence 
was known to have backed them up, and after they were 
turned out he helped to raise a subscription for them. 
This, in a young man employed as matter of favour to 
my father, could not be borne even by amiable Mr. 


Goodwin. He told my father shortly, but decidedly, that 
Lawrence must leave, and advised his being sent out of 
Norwich. He added a few words of general regard for 
the youth's moral character, but said he was one of 
those who would stir up sedition wherever he could, 
and his best chance was to go somewhere, where he 
would be made to work hard, and have no time to 
meddle with politics. 

That was a very important night in our family lives. 
We all assembled at supper as usual. Lawrence knew 
of his dismissal, and was rather silent and dull ; no one 
else, save my father, was aware of it. My father, how- 
ever, then and there told us exactly what had passed. 
He spoke very kindly. He would not allow us to 
complain of Mr. Goodwin. He said Lawrence was very 
young, little more than a boy : and that he had made 
himself too conspicuous, and Mr. Goodwin had a perfect 
right to dismiss him, and had given him sound advice 
on the whole. 

Still we young ones were indignant, and protested 
that Lawry had done nothing but what was right. My 
father half smiled. " You don't understand the ques- 
tion, you young folks ; it is whether violent young poli- 
ticians like Lawrence are to be tolerated in running 
counter to their employers in action" 

"Well, father," said Lawrence, at last, " I don't 
mean to dispute Mr. Goodwin's right, and I do wish 
you would send me away somewhere. I shall never be 
out of the mess here, I know." 

It seemed very like truth ; so on that night there 
came into our house, for the first time, the notion which 
comes to all homes sooner or later, of a break-up 
in tht? family circle j and my dear mother's eyes filled 


with tears, as she looked np at Lawry's handsome face, 
while he turned his loving glance at her, and we all set 
np a small outcry of dismay ; yet it was not very loud. 
We all thought it a right and plucky thing in Lawrence 
to wish to go ; and were proud of his giving up all 
rather than his " principles." Even sober Dick, so 
pacific in general, blustered a little about liberty^and 

We parted for the night and went to bed, we young 
ones at? least, with a dash of the spirit of self-gratulation, 
with a notion that we were a somewhat heroic virtuous 
family, ready to sacrifice our principal member to prin- 
ciple ; that we were endeavouring to do our duty to the 
common weal as men and Englishmen should. 

In the morning there was considerably less of ex- 
citement. We woke up to the reality of separation, 
and my mother's spirits were low, and my father was 
grave. He and Lawrence had some private talk, and the 
result of it was, indeed, an awful one to us all. It seemed 
that Lawrence's most intimate friend, a farmer's son 
in the country, had come into possession of a few hun- 
dreds, and felt strongly tempted to take this money and 
himself to Australia, there to buy sheep, and purchase a 
run of land, and settle himself for a few years there, if 
he could get a willing and active young man to take a 
small share with him, and partake his shepherd's lot. 
The prospect was reasonable and good. The young 
farmer's friends were well known and much respected, 
and when Lawry expressed his wish to go with him, 
my father and mother objected chiefly on the ground 
of the distance and separation. It took time to get 
over this, but Lawrence's mind was set upon it. He 
Tras adventurous and full of resource. He knew that 


at home lie should be a source of anxiety and expense 
to my father, and deliberately thought that "bis friend's 
offer to take him was worth accepting. Mr. Goodwin 
not only approved, but most kindly offered to advance 
a moderate sum for equipments and passage, and the 
matter once decided, all arrangements were made with 
as little delay as possible. 


YET it was a sad day to us when Lawrence drew my 
mother, for the last time, in her garden chair, to Mrs. 
Goodwin's beautiful garden, where she had liberty to sit 
undisturbed, under the shade of two noble elms ; and 
where Lawrence, Bachel and Maggy, and I gathered 
round her. 

It is well for us all that we can look so short a way 
onward in life ; it comes next, perhaps, to the large and 
mighty blessing of looking on for ever and ever, which 
is permitted, nay inculcated, on us all. Had we known 
then that we four should meet no more on earth, how 
much more sad would that golden evening have been. 
I could well see that it was a pain and grief to Lawrence 
to leave us, as well as to us to lose him. I did not 
often go to that garden after he left us ; neither did my 
mother, for in the following spring she had an illness, 
and before summer came she was no more. I always 
thought she pined after Lawrence. That evening, how- 
ever, how charming it was ! The short green turf of 
the lawn, with small beds of flowers upon it. The 
graceful spire of the cathedral rising close by us amid 
the trees, while the rooks and daws kept up there con- 
stant movement. The distant splashing of oars on the 


river, and the hum of school-boy voices in the Close. 
The organ was, to be sure, mute then, or we should have 
heard its rich sounds. One of the greatest privileges of 
old Hulme was the possession of many large gardens. 
Even in what appeared the closer streets, if a side door 
of a house stood open and you looked through it, you 
would find that it admitted you into a pleasant back- 
ground of turf and flowers ; but few gardens were so 
beautiful as Mr. Goodwin's, and there was a picturesque 
character given to it by jutting out fragments of the 
old wall, covered with ivy and wallflowers. 

Here, then, we sat, and talked out that last evening, 
and in the morning Lawrence, really subdued and sor- 
rowful, took his leave, and my father and Dick went with 
him to the coach-office, where he was to take his place 
for London, from whence the emigrant ship started. 

It was a dull time after that. Letters from Australia 
were long in coming, and I went and came to the free 
school, till my father thought I ought to be doing 
something in the way of learning a business. For 
myself, I never had a notion of anything but being a 
citizen of old Hulme, and my home had many at- 
tractions still. Then I could not look at my mother 
and not see that she was always thinking of Lawrence, 
and that I, and all of us, must do what we could to 
cheer her. Rachel and I did our best, and so did Dick, 
in his leisure hours ; she was always gentle and kind, 
and ready to be pleased; always too, it was easy to 
see, her pious mind directed her to the true source of 
comfort. Still the months moved rather wearily on ; 
Lawrence had left us in autumn, and towards March 
my mother caught one of her bad colds, and we all 


trembled for her, not without reason. She just lived 
long enough to hear the first letter from her son. It 
was something of a comfort, no doubt, to see the dear 
hand again, and he wrote cheerfully ; but my mother 
could not like the sort of life that was in store for him. 
He had reached the run of land which he and his 
partner had taken, and had bought his sheep, but it was 
nothing like an English farm. There they were, two 
lonely shepherds, without servant, or neighbour, or 
sight of man's or woman's face, for many weeks pro- 
bably, from morning to evening. To fancy our 
sprightly, sociable, merry Lawrence, the life of us 
all, in his hut, or sitting on the hill- side watching 
his sheep, feeling how slowly the sun marked out 
the progress of time, longing to hear the sound of 
a human voice, which never could be till night, when 
he and his partner met at their usual meal of tea 
and mutton, and damper, was very strange. He loved, 
dear fellow, to make a joke of something. He told 
my mother that Purples and Blues did not trouble him 
now, for he had only the distant purple hills to look at, 
and, farther still, the beautiful blue sky. My mother 
sighed at the picture, but she looked up silently herself, 
and I am sure there was a prayer sent from her heart 
for the lonely watcher. That night she had a paralytic 
stroke, which put an end to her blameless, useful life, 
and our first letter to Lawrence had to announce this 
event. He, meanwhile, kept on writing to her who was 
no more. The letters would have comforted her. He 
and his partner were prospering, were likely to be rich ; 
and then of course they need not live their lonely lives 
much longer. Indeed, to make an end of Lawrence 


here, I may add, that in about three years lie mar- 
ried well, and settled near Melbourne; by that time 
quite renouncing all thought of coming back to old 

For my father too was gone. He was carried off by 
a prevalent and fatal fever, and I, who had been under 
him at Mr. Goodwin's the last year, had it too, while 
Rachel, who escaped, had, with our Molly and Maggy, 
a heavy work in nursing. Dick, it was thought, had a 
touch of it ; but his illness, whatever it was, fell on the 
lungs, and the doctor said, if it were possible, he must 
move to a milder climate. Just then his master heard 
of a good assistant's situation in Devonport, and there 
Dick, with our sorrowful consent, went. Then the 
question was, where Rachel and Maggy should live. 
Rachel thought she could get some day teaching in 
Hulme, and wished to keep up a small home for Maggy 
and me, as long as possible. So it was settled, and I 
must say that those three or four years of our joint 
lives were, if not brilliant, very happy ones. Friends 
were all kind ; Rachel was warmly taken up, and was 
liked in the families she assisted. Then our evenings 
were never idle. A ticket was given us for the capital 
old library of the city, and, if lectures worth hearing 
were advertised, people thought of us and our small 
means. My father's life had been insured, and Lawrence 
would take no part of the little income resulting from 
it ; so we managed to live comfortably, loving Hulme 
better than ever. 

But when I was just twenty-one, Mr. Goodwin, my 
kind and liberal friend, made me a proposal which 
changed all onr plans. 


I had not thought much of the future, but he had 
thought for me ; and one day he called me into his private 
room, told me that it was time to consider what my 
look-out here was, and whether I could do nothing better 
for myself. He said he could not himself advance me 
much, but he had seen that I was industrious and rather 
above my position ; in particular he knew I had been 
studying German with Rachel, and had made myself a 
pretty good scholar. He thought if I could get into one 
of those German houses in Manchester or Liverpool, 
where a knowledge of this language would be important, 
it would promote my interest much above anything he 
could anticipate at home. He mentioned one house in 
particular, where they sent travellers to Germany and 
all parts of the Continent, and had agents in several 
places, and he offered to write, recommending me. Of 
course I was grateful, though startled at first ; but 
Rachel, sorry as she might be to break up our pleasant 
little home, saw at a glance that it was an important 
step for me. I had not made her anxious by my taste 
for politics as yet ; but still she knew what was to come, 
and while (for she was no coward) she did not want me 
to shirk my duty, she felt sorry to think I must probably 
by and by have to vex our good friend my employer, 
as my father (spite of his quietness) had done, by taking 
a different side to himself. By and by then we con- 
cluded we must accept a good offer, if it came, and it 
did come, and I took a sad leave of Rachel and Maggy, 
and went to my new employers at Manchester. I did 
not at all like the change at first. The house I lived in 
with other young men was disagreeable. I wanted a 
sister, or at least some nice, friendly woman to talk to 


now and then ; but I came across no one, in the easy, 
quiet intercourse I liked. However, trying to make the 
best of it, I was noticed and taken out to country houses 
now and then by my town friends, and after a year or 

two of foreign counting-house life, Messrs. sent me 

first to Hamburg and then to Frankfort, and then I had 
a long, long mission in Valparaiso. 

Rachel, meantime, had seen reason to wish to join 
our brother Richard at Devonport; for Maggy had 
thought proper to marry a London young man, and she 
did not wish to live alone. 

Thus there really was no one left in old Hulme to 
make me wish to return there. I went and came ; saw 
much of the world : did not learn to love it perhaps the 
more, for I did not find a real home anywhere, and I 
did not marry, probably because I had so little time to 
think about it. 

But for the last two years, though I have felt myself 
growing too old for that change, I have thought more 
than ever of Lawrence and his wife and children in 
Melbourne. I have been to see them once already, and 
they wanted me to stop with them there, but I had 
duties to do for my employers. Now I am past seventy, 
and am my own master. I see that Rachel and Dick 
do not want me. I shall leave them a share of my 
savings, and so also by Maggy, and when I have seen 
old Hulme again, and my father's and mother's, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin's graves, I shall most likely take 
passage for Australia at once. 

I am going to-morrow to revisit the dear old 
j>lace. No one will know me perhaps, but I shall 
know every court, and lane, and old garden ; and 1 may 


see a face or two that I remember, and when I have 
looked I shall say, " Q-ood bye for ever, dear old city of 

Farewell, home of my fathers ; and, reader, fare you 
vrell also. 





" There is a Providence that shapes our ends, 
Kough-hew them as we will." SHAKSFXAKB. 

" TT EAVEN be praised, the ice is breaking up !" 

*-*- The speaker of these words, a slight youth, 
wrapt in furs, leaned over a low wall at the top of a 
steep cliff, overlooking the Siberian river Irtish. Be- 
hind him, on yet higher ground, stood what is called 
the " higher town " of Tobolsk, capital of "Western 
Siberia. Beneath lay the " lower town," a collection of 
quaint yellow houses, built of wood. Far away, in the 
hazy light of dawn, stretched a "steppe," or wide 
waste of undulating ground, across which coursed many 
streams, swollen by the melted snows from distant hill- 
tops. These all ran into the already brimming Irtish ; 
its waves rolled on, bearing on their bosoms huge 
masses of ice, that looked solemn and ghost-like in the faint 
morning light. Sometimes one ice-hill jostled another, 


and then followed sounds like claps of thunder, far and 
near, and the harsh noise of sharp edges rasping one 
another. Many of the good people of Tobolsk hurried 
from their beds to watch this break-up of winter, and 
small craft began to ply close to the banks of the river, 
where its course was tolerably clear. As day broke, 
the scene grew more and more animated. 

"Thank Heaven," repeated the youth, in Polish, 
" there is a chance at last of getting away ! Four or 
five days will melt these icebergs, and then adieu, 
Tobolsk !" 

He raised himself with a joyful gesture, and saw 
for the first time a face peering curiously into his. It 
was a broad face, of the coarsest Russian mould, tanned 
by many years of exposure to sun and frost, the eyes 
small and greenish grey, the lower features buried in a 
mass of grizzled, uncombed hair. " Wherein has Tobolsk 
displeased Monsieur, that he is so eager to turn his back 
upon it ?" asked this new comer, jocosely. 

The foreigner drew back, for he was not yet used to 
the Russian fashion of accosting travellers, and plying 
them with questions ; moreover, he had strong reasons 
for shunning inquiry. After a little struggle with 
himself, however, his natural courtesy prevailed, and he 
answered, " Tobolsk is well enough, if one has leisure ; 
but for a man who wishes to push on, it is trying to be 
detained three weeks by roads knee-deep in water, and 
river-ice too rotten for sledging." 

"And whither is Monsieur desirous of going?" 
asked the Russian. 

The Pole looked surprised at this further query, 
but noting a good-humoured twinkle in the green- 
grey eyes, answered, " I think of exploring up this 


stream and the river Oby, into which, if I mistake not, 
it falls." 

" Ah, the Oby !" said the little man. " Father Oby 
is an old acquaintance of mine ; my best friend, I may 
say, as he yearly fills my nets with fish, and my pockets 
with silver. Perhaps your honour has business at my 
town of Berezov, the only habitable place up there ?" 

"Really, friend, you catechise one strictly," said 
the stranger, with a slight laugh. "Well, suppose I 
had a commission from a great house at Kief, to bring 
samples of Siberian*furs ; will that satisfy your curiosity ?" 

"Good, good," said the little man, "I thought as 
much ; wags say there are but three things to be found 
at Berezov sable-skins, mosquitoes, and Polish exiles ; 
one of the three I thought you must be after ! No 
offence, I hope ?" 

Our traveller winced, as though suddenly stung, and 
the quick colour glowed in his face, but he controlled 
his feelings, and replied sedately 

" Offence ? none ; so far from it, I should rather like 
to pick your brains as to that part of the world." 

Here the little man cut him short by saying, " If 
Monsieur will make the trip to Berezov in my vessel (and 
a better does not ply on the Irtish), I will give him the 
best information as to the prices of marten, squirrel, 
mink, chinchilla, and reindeer-cub ! I will show him 
how to deal with the wild Ostiak hunters that bring the 
skins for sale ; nay, I can tell him of a dodge or two by 
which he may outwit the old Russian fur-traders, crafty 
knaves as they are ! Will Monsieur look at my boat?" 

The stranger agreed to do so, on condition they 
should start for Berezov as soon as possible after the 
melting of the ice. 


This, the little man replied, it was for his interest to 
do, as the fishing season in the Frozen Ocean would 
soon begin, and his boat had been one of the " Oby 
fleet" for more than twenty years ; indeed, he might 
say, took the lead in the yearly fishing expeditions. He 
gave his address, " Peter Poushkin, owner and captain 
of the ' Czar Nicholas,' " then shuffled down the hill at 
a rapid pace, humming the Russian national air. 

The stranger stood deep in thought, his gaze fixed 
on the grey northern sky-line. " Papa, mamma, Frida, 
my little sister," he murmured, stretching his arms 
towards the icy zone ; " little bright-haired Frida, and 
Alfie too, whom I have never seen, but who lisps my 
name already, may I indeed hope to see you ? Will 
your soft arms, my mother, be round my neck once 
more ? Has Heaven such bliss in store for your Alarik ?" 

Just then the sun's glowing orb appeared over the 
shoulder of the cliff; in a momeut the twilight scene 
became flooded with intense dazzling light ; rivers, 
steppe, ice-masses, all glittered, and the crosses of 
several churches that crowned the steep rock, caught 
the ray, and twinkled like so many stars. Alarik 
accepted the sudden glory as a good omen. 

An hour later, Alarik had secured his place on the 
" Czar Nicholas ;" the little bark did not quite answer 
to its imperial name, its accommodation being small 
and of the roughest. Its one private cabin, half filled 
with casks of vodky (a kind of whisky), had been re- 
tained for the "custom-house officer's lady" of Berezov 
and her two daughters. Alarik preferred a shake-down 
on the deck, as far removed as possible from the mingled 
odours of fur, fish, spirits, and tar which came up from 
below. Here, with plenty of wraps, he hoped to be 


tolerably comfortable. By Poushkin's advice, lie laid 
in a supply of groceries, etc., for some -weeks, there 
being neither market nor shops at Berezov. During the 
trip, which usually occupied about a fortnight, Poushkin 
undertook to feed the passengers. For this he asked 
from each an exorbitant sum beforehand, expecting as a 
matter of course to have his demands beaten down to 
half. Alarik alone paid the silver with dreamy indiffer- 
ence, the little man muttering as he half unwillingly 
pocketed it, " The youngster will never grow rich unless 
he deals with the fur-traders in quite another fashion^ 
I must teach him to haggle for every paper rouble !" 
From that moment he took Alarik under his protection. 

Several days passed. On the 14th of May all was 
ready for a start, and our traveller presented himself, 
not without trepidation, at the police-office, to have his 
passport examined. Luckily, Poushkin was on the 
spot, and appeared to be hand and glove with the offi- 
cials. He looked familiarly over the shoulder of the 
man who inspected Alarik's papers, scanning our hero 
narrowly as he did so. " Name Alarik Franz ; age 
twenty-two (you don't look nineteen, young man) ; 
business travelling clerk for L.'s, fur traders at Kief 
(let us hope there is a grey head on those green 
shoulders) ; eyes brown (good) ; hair chestnut (good) ; 
complexion fair? (ahem, I should say brown)." 

" Brown from travelling," put in Poushkin ; " no- 
thing so tanning as March wind and sun. Go on, 

" Height 5 feet 8," continued the officer (" 5 feet 
10, /should have said"). 

" Lads grow," suggested Poushkin, oracularly. " Go 
on s comrade." 


" Rather stout," read on the officer ; " nay, friend 
Poushkin, what say you to that ? The lad is slim as a 

" Of course, of course," returned Poushkin, una- 
bashed, " what he has gained in height he has lost in 
breadth ; 'tis as plain as the sun at midnight, as we say 
"H my country ! Now, despatch our business, I prithee, 
comrade, and I will bring a silver fox-skin for thy good 
lady when I come back in the autumn." 

Poushkin's eloquence prevailed, and he and his com- 
panion were allowed to depart. By noon, captain, 
passengers, and crew were assembled on the little bark; 
the signal gun had been thrice fired, and the " Czar 
Nicholas" was gliding out of sight of Tobolsk. For 
the first few hours they proceeded cheerily along the 
brimming river, a line of low blue hills on either side of 
them, and rows of birches in budding leaf overhanging 
the water. The aun shed down a marvellous warmth 
and brightness, and the wild steppe answered to his 
smile by a flush of faint green over its barren surface. 
Snatches of song from the boatmen accompanying the 
dash of their oars sounded pleasantly in the fresh spring 
air. The passengers smoked, or chatted on deck, and 
one or two busied themselves already with their 
" Samovar " or tea-urn, the delight of every Russian 
traveller, and often resorted to six or eight times in the 
day. There were two or three respectable tradesmen's 
wives on board, and they came on deck in holiday cos- 
tume, wearing gold chains, and coloured silk kerchiefs 
twisted round their heads. Far less picturesque looked 
the daughters of the custom-house officer, who wore 
French bonnets and mantles, and gave themselves airs, 
on the strength of their father being a servant of the 


crown ; they talked so much, and laughed so loud, as to 
drive our young Pole in disgust to the furthest end of 
the vessel ; there he sat, alone and silent, " chewing the 
cud of sweet and bitter fancies." 

I suppose you need not to be told that he was no fur 
trader ; that the passport which Poushkin had induced 
the Tobolsk official to wink at, had been made out for 
another person ; that not minks nor martens, but his 
own flesh and blood, were the objects of his search at 
Berezov. Had he simply wished to visit his parents 
there such disguise would have been needless, for the 
Russian government not seldom allowed Polish exiles to 
receive their friends, on parole as it were ; but a further 
design had taken possession of Alarik's brain, a design 
which would appear wild and impossible to older 
people, in fact to all who knew how safe a prison-house 
the vast realm of Siberia is. Alarik cherished a hope 
that he might one day enable his father to make his 
escape ! this thought had haunted him day and night 
from early boyhood, had grown with his growth, and 
strengthened with his strength, and now quite absorbed 
him. So he sat brooding over it, tossed backwards and 
forwards like a weaver's shuttle between hope and 
despair. This strife might have endangered his reason, 
but for a deep groundwork of religious faith that lay 
at the bottom of his heart. It had been laid by his 
mother, long ago, and after she had voluntarily followed 
her husband into exile, it had been built up by a wise 
and reverend clergyman of the Greek church to whom 
his education had been entrusted. It had since borne 
the ordeal of a year and a half at a military college, and 
the still greater trial of coming into a large property 
early, by the death of an uncle and godfather, iz> 


Galicia. Probably the thought of his parents' suffer- 
ings, and the ever-present longing to rescue them, had 
been his safeguard through many of the temptations 
incident to youth. 

The result of Alarik's present musings was a firm 
resolve to be doubly cautious as he drew near his goal, 
and to let no one perceive that he took more than com- 
mon interest in the exiles. He determined to be 
guarded in his intercourse with Poushkin, as he had no 
desire to make that good-natured, but coarse-minded 
individual his confidant. He acted at once on these 
resolves, by sauntering up to the idlers, and join- 
ing in the gossip of the hour. Even the fast young 
ladies acquired some interest in his eyes when he became 
aware from their talk that they came from Berezov. 
They had wintered in Tobolsk, they said, partly for the 
sake of better society, partly on account of their 
mother who was consulting the doctors for a sudden, 
and, as it proved, hopeless affection of the eyes, not 
uncommon in Siberia. The old lady herself had not yet 
appeared, being unable to bear the cloudless sunshine. 

Within fifty miles of Tobolsk the country becomes 
perfectly flat and barren, with no sign of life save here 
and there a Tartar hamlet with its mosque and slender 
minaret ; but as you proceed north the scenery grows 
bolder. The Irtish expands to more than a mile in 
width, its current is very rapid and muddy, its channel 
bounded on both sides by dense masses of willows, 
beyond which rise high cliffs clothed with aged pines 
and cedars. Here, in spring, the north wind often roars, 
as through a tunnel. It proved so now ; our little vessel 
creaked and strained ; the movement made most of the 
passengers ill; the two young ladies lay dumb and 


helpless on deck ; even the " Samovar " was neglected ; 
Poushkin's jokes were unheeded; Alarik, chilly and 
miserable, fought against his feelings of discomfort, and 
tried to help those who were in worse plight than him- 
self. An opportunity soon presented itself to him of 
being of service to the blind lady, whose nerves were 
upset at this juncture by an alarm of fire in her cabin ( 
some careless lounger had sauntered in and sat down 
on one of the spirit-casks to smoke at his ease ; he had 
shaken the ashes out of his pipe as he departed, and a 
spark lighting on some dry wood, presently ignited. 
Happily Alarik's eye was caught by the blaze, he darted 
in, trampled oat the fire, and good-naturedly soothed 
Madame Prassenko's terror. From this time a friend- 
ship sprang up between them ; he found her a simple- 
hearted, " motherly body," as we say in England, 
evidently the drudge at home, toiling, poor thing, to 
procure for her girls the shallow but costly education 
which led them to look down upon her. They stood 
aloof, wondering and tittering at the intimacy between 
their mother and the handsome foreigner, and quite at a 
loss to imagine what he could find to interest him in her 
homely talk. 

What, indeed ? she, charmed to find a listener, and 
encouraged by his cordial kindness, told him the sad 
story of her blindness, how much the glare of three 
months' uninterrupted daylight at Berezov had affected 
her eyes, how she had not liked to complain, how the 
Tobolsk doctor had said there was no remedy now ; six 
months earlier there might have been ! Ah, it was hard 
to reconcile herself to the will of the Lord ! But He 
knew best, yes, doubtless He did, and she meekly 
added, " Who knows but He has quenched my sight on 


earth, that I may the more surely see Him in heaven ! 
Yet, 'tis a hard trial, for I have the house and farm to 
manage ; my husband is busy in bis office, and the girls 
are good girls, but young and heedless and cows 
need great care and experience : I have fifteen fine 
cows, sir, and supply several good families in Berezov 
from my dairy ; one family especially, of distinguished 
exiles, I have served six years the name is Templitz, 
Count Templitz, his lady and two children did you 
ever hear the name ?" 

It was well the eyes turned upon Alarik were sight- 
less, or they would have detected his changing colour, 
and quivering lips ; after a pause he said, " Templitz a 
Polish name, is it not ?'' 

" Ay, Polish ; the count's is a hard case, poor 
gentleman. He lived quietly on his property ; never, 
they say, plotted against our good czar, but in evil 
hour, harboured some that did ; so he suffered for it ; it 
is the old story of the stork caught among the cranes." 

" How does he bear up ?" asked Alarik, with a 
gasping sigh. 

" Ah, but poorly," she replied ; "he is pious, and 
murmurs not ; but one can see that the home- sickness 
is consuming him. He is ordered a milk diet for his 
chest, and often when their Cossack is busy, the little 
Baroness Frida comes herself for my cream. She loves 
me, that dear child, and often opens her heart to me. 
* Ah, Anna Timothevna,' she says, ' papa looks very ill 
to-day, and I dare not say so to mamma, for she watches 
him with such sad eyes, from behind the newspaper she 
is reading to him ! Oh that I were old enough to go to 
Russia, like that other exile's daughter, and fling myself 
at your czar's feet, and beg papa's freedom ! I would 


walk barefooted to Petersburg to ask it, I would indeed; 
but don't tell mamma so, for she says the czar is not 
good, at least to us Poles, and that papa would rather 
die than ask a favour of him.' Then she hides her face 
on my breast, poor lamb, and sobs as if her heart would 
burst, and afterwards she seems comforted, and goes 
with me to see the cows, and feed the hens. I always 
send her back smiling, with a packet of dried fruits or 
almond cakes for little Alfie, her brother." 

" Her brother ?" repeated Alarik, in a low voice ; 
" so the count has a son ?" 

" Two sons," replied Madame Prassenko ; " one, the 
little angel Alfie, not three years old, and one in Europe, 
a fine young man, as I hear, and surely a good one, for 
never does a mail-boat or sledge arrive without bring- 
ing tokens of love to his parents, books, easy-chairs, 
and I know not what besides. Oh, the tears of joy 
that poor lady sheds over them, and over the letters she 
receives from her dear boy. She and little Frida live 
on the hope of a visit from him, when he becomes his 
own master ; but ah, there will be little need for the 
young gentleman to come here, for his father's days are 
surely numbered, and should he die, his widow and 
children will soon get leave from the emperor to return 
to Europe." 

The old lady's forebodings were interrupted by her 
companion's starting up, as though in pain. Without 
uttering a word, he rushed on deck, and there paced 
up and down for some time with disordered steps. By 
degrees his calmness returned, and urged alike by kind 
feeling and prudence, he hastened back to the blind 

"Ah," she said, "I feared an old woman's long- 


winded stories had frightened your honour away ; one 
forgets that what absorbs one's self may weary another ; 
Berezov, my world, my home, can be nothing to you." 

" Pardon me," murmured Alarik, " I did but seek a 
breath of air ; this cabin is so hot, so stifling ; as to 
Berezov, I begin to feel an interest in it, and desire to 
learn all you can tell me respecting its climate, its resi- 
dents, its its fur-trade." 

It needed no more to re-assure Madame Prassenko, 
and during that and several following days, she retained 
Alarik as her devoted listener. He was rewarded by 
gleaning much information that might prove of use 
eventually, and now and then some sweet and touching 
detail respecting those most dear to his faithful heart. 

On the eighth day they reached a village named 
Samarov, and there entered on the Oby, a splendid sheet 
of water in which the Irtish is lost. Many islets, over- 
grown with weeping willows, dotted this river, and its 
hilly banks were crowned with pines. Here the wind grew 
so boisterous that they were obliged to lie at anchor 
till its fury was spent. Alarik accompanied Poushkin 
and some of the crew on shore, where they cut down a 
noble cedar for a mast. He was refreshed by this little 
trip, and brought back a bunch of wild currants, half 
ripe, and a crimson peony, as harbingers of summer. 
Further north, they espied a few "yourts," or settle- 
ments of Ostiaks, and from these wild people Poushkin 
obtained ducks, eggs, and fish, a welcome addition to 
the flour dumplings and barley -gruel to which they had 
been of late reduced. At every verst the country grew 
more rugged and dreary ; the banks were crowned with 
jagged cliffs ; huge masses of rock lay by the river-side 
or protruded their sharp peaks from under the water, 


rendering the most cautious navigation necessary. 
Poushkin now showed himself quite equal to the occa- 
sion cool, wary, and unflagging in his attention to the 
vessel. This peril past, they sped on through wintry 
scenes till on the fourteenth day they left the magnifi- 
cent Oby, and entered on the Soswa, one of its feeders. 
There a storm of snow and sleet met them, but it quickly 
cleared off, and the evening sun shone out pale and 
watery. All eyes turned northward, all feet rushed on 
deck, all hands were joyfully clapped, with the ringing 
shout, " Berezov ! Berezov !" A small cannon, " no 
bigger than a rat," as some one observed, was dragged 
on deck and fired three times to announce their arrival. 
Alarik stood with a throbbing heart, looking towards 
the town ; he could discern two churches on the top of 
a knoll, overhanging the river ; one or two large houses 
painted yellow near them, and a dark solemn back- 
ground of endless forest. The rest of the town lay on 
a lower level, and consisted of shabby, dingy houses, 
the largest but two stories high. The place altogether 
bore a melancholy aspect. 

Poushkin and one or two more Berezovians kindly 
asked our young stranger to take up his abode with 
them, while looking oub for a lodging. He had, how- 
ever, been already retained by Madame Prassenko, and 
the more gladly accepted her hospitality, because he had 
gathered that her house and farm were within a stone's 
throw of his parents' abode. The "Czar Nicholas" 
now cast anchor, boats came alongside, and after some 
bustle and delay, our friends were landed on the quay. 
There a crowd of all classes stood waiting to receive 
them, the women in holiday garb and headgear of all 
the colours of the rainbow. Mr. Prassenko elbowed 


his way through the throng, and there was an honest 
warmth in the greeting he gave his blind helpmate that 
struck and pleased Alarik. The girls even forgot their 
Tobolsk airs in the genuine joy of seeing their father ; 
so they were a happy party as they trudged together 
through Berezov. There was no choice but to walk, 
for neither cart nor carriage existed in the whole town. 
Such walking as it was ! The ground, frozen all the 
year round to a depth of full a hundred feet, had been 
thawed on the surface by gleams of hot sun during the 
last week ; so the streets were so many canals of mud, 
with logs and planks forming a kind of " trottoir " upon 
them, a most unsafe one for all but practised feet. 
Happily Alarik was light and active, and so escaped 
both a plunge into the quagmire, and the merciless 
raillery of the young ladies, who would have been de- 
lighted to catch him tripping. When they reached the 
hill, and began to climb to the upper town, matters 
improved ; the Prassenko dwelling was safely reached, 
and Alarik, anxious to be alone, and also to leave the 
family party to themselves, told his kind host he should 
stroll about for an hour and then join their evening meal. 
He well knew in what direction to bend his steps. 
The Prassenko house stood on the edge of a cliff; and 
another cliff frowned opposite, divided from it by a 
narrow ravine, often flooded with water from the Soswa. 
A rude bridge spanned the ravine ; Alarik crossed it, 
followed a narrow path through a belt of pine-trees, and 
found himself, not unexpectedly, in a wide grave-yard. 
It had no boundary except the cliff on one side, and the 
waving pine-forest on the other. At its furthest angle 
stood a church, which threw its hallowed shade far 
across the graves. A low house, surrounded with strong 
palings, peeped out from behind the church, and w& 


the only dwelling visible from that point of view. 
Alarik's heart leaped towards this unknown yet beloved 
spot, and he would have sought an entrance there at 
once, but for the fear of encountering a certain Cossack, 
attached by government to each household of exiles, as 
a guard and spy. Should he attract this man's notice 
and wake his suspicions, what might not the conse- 
quences to his father and mother be? No, cruel as 
this suspense was, he must make up his mind to bear it, 
he must bide his time, watch and wait and collect all 
his nerve and coolness, ready to spring on the first safe 
opportunity for making himself known. While he 
mused thus, two or three groups of people passed lei- 
surely along the churchyard path and went their way. 
Another group lingered behind and sought out a distant 
grave, on which they laid a crown of everlastings. Alarik 
meanwhile withdrew to a quiet spot, where a sort of glade 
dotted with stone or iron crosses ran up into the forest. 
Here one or two costly marble monuments marked the 
resting-places of the more distinguished dead. A few 
yellow sunbeams strayed in, between the boles of the 
old cedars, and cast a rich gleam over those tombs. 
"While he stood there, his eyes fixed with devouring 
eagerness on that gabled house, a door in its paling 
opened. Quietly, slowly, a little girl, perhaps nine years 
old, came forth, wrapped in cloa'k and hood. He could 
not doubt it was Frida, perhaps going to the Prassenko 
farm for cream ; if so, he must accost her, but how should 
he do so ? how make himself known to the little one 
without startling her? He must take a moment to 
decide this point, and waylay her on her return. In 
one respect, however, he was mistaken. She was not 
going to Prassenko's. No, she walked steadily along 
the path a little way, then turned to her right, and made 


for a tiny green mound close to the cedar against which 
Alarik leaned. He remained spell-bonnd, his eyes fixed 
on a funeral wreath which she held in her little gloved 
hands. It was composed of pale green larch-twigs with 
their rose-coloured tassels, delicate and lovely as the 
infant on whose grave they were to rest. Alarik saw it 
all now, the cross-shaped headstone, the name " Alfred 
Templitz," the age three years ! He saw at a glance that 
a fresh grief, keen and unlooked-for, had visited his 
exiled parents ; that the babe whose sweet image lay 
" deep in the mother's inmost heart " had been snatched 
away, blighted most likely by the killing cold of that 
polar region. It was a severe blow ; half-stunned, he 
watched Frida, saw her hang her wreath on the head- 
stone, adjust and re-adjust it, bend the knee a moment, 
then turn away, as though not trusting herself to look 
again. But the childish resolution failed. She did look 
back, and then, unseen himself, he marked the colourless 
little face, the expression of woe in the round childish 
features, and large brown eyes. Softly she turned, and 
throwing herself down, allowed her choking sobs to 
have their way. Alarik was beside himself; he came 
to her side at once, kneeled down close to her, and 
taking one little hand in both his, hoarsely whispered, 
" Frida, Frida I" 

" Who are you ?" she asked, disturbed rather than 
frightened by the apparition, the thought of Alfie 
seeming to leave no room for other thoughts, still less 
for fears. , 

" I am your brother, Frida," he answered, tenderly. 

" My brother lies here," she said in a dreamy tone, 
hugging the ground tight with both arms. 

"Ay," he replied, " our brother lies here, but did 
you never hear him lisp the name of Alarik ?" 


She raised her brimming eyes to his face, with a 
quick glance of sweet intelligence, wMeh brightened it 
as sunshine does snow. " Often, often," she said; "and 
you are Alarik, mamma's own Alarik? and you are 
come to comfort her and poor papa ? Ah me, ah me, 
what joy!" 

The child's sobs redoubled, and shook to pieces her 
weak, slight frame, but Alarik took her in his arms, an 
clasped and rocked her there till she grew calm ; the 
shiverings ceased, the testrs were kissed away, a feeling 
of peace and protection stole over her ; by degrees she 
became able to listen to and answer his questions ; and, 
as she did so, he was surprised and charmed by the 
quickness with which she caught his meaning, saw the 
need of secrecy, and suggested the safest way of bringing 
him to his parents. There was no guile in that childish 
heart, all was clear and pure as crystal there ; only 
early sorrows had added something of the needful wis- 
dom of the serpent to the innocence of the dove. 

They parted, but two hours later, at a concerted 
signal, Alarik joined Frida at the paling, and was led 
by her to the low chamber, where his parents aat 
awaiting him with breathless impatience. Never, surely, 
on earth, was there a more blissful meeting ! 



* Let net the water-flood drown me, neither let the deep swallow me op.* 

A MONTH later all was excitement and bustle in Berezov. 
The Oby fleet was about to start on its hazardous 
voyage to the frozen ocean. A forest of masts curiously 
rigged, and bright with flags of all colours, crowded 
the river, and small boats plied between these larger 
vessels and the shore, bringing the provisions and other 
stores, needed for a three months' absence in that fear- 
fully cold climate. 

No one so busy or so important on this occasion as 
our friend Captain Poushkin. His natural shrewdness 
and courage, and his thorough knowledge of those 
waters, had given him the lead among his brother 
townsmen five and twenty years before, and his bound- 
less self-confidence enabled him to keep it still, though 
his eyes were growing dim and his sturdy limbs growing 

Alarik, who after enjoying the Prassenko hospitality 
for a week had engaged a lodging under Poushkin's 
roof, was a good deal interested with these practical 
preparations. Many were the weary hours when pru- 
ilence forbade his hovering near his parent's dwelling, 
and these he whiled away as best he might on the liver, 
watching and often helping Poushkin at his work. 

The night before the fleet started, Alarik witnessed 
a new phase in Berezov life and in the character of his 
grizly old host. The veteran's family, brothers, sisters, 
cousins, grandchildren, all trooped together to spend 
this evening at his house. A plentiful supper was laid 


out for them, beginning with a " pirog " or raised cake, 
dried fruits and Siberian cedar-nuts, and ending with 
more solid fare, ducks, smoked and fresh, pickled geese 
ft ad reindeer tongues. Vodky was handed round to the 
men, and light home-made wine, prepared from rasp- 
berries or currants, to the women. 

Conversation and toasts had become loud and 
animated, when Poushkin suddenly raised his hand as 
a signal. A dead silence fell on all ; the company rose- 
and followed him two and two into an inner room, 
which was lighted with many tapers. Here, partly 
screened by curtains, was an image of the tutelar saint 
of the family, surrounded by other smaller images, 
black and timeworn, but gaudily decked in gold and 
silver apparel. 

The master of the house advanced slowly towards 
this shrine and knelt down, touching the floor several 
times with his forehead, and repeating a short prayer, 
the purport of which Alarik was not sufficiently master 
of Russian fully to understand. From Poushkin's 
gestures, however, he gathered that the hoary seaman 
was committing himself and those he was leaving 
behind to the care of the Almighty. Tears ran down 
his weather-beaten cheeks as he did it, and the family 
responded with a chorus of sobbing and wailing which 
Alarik could not listen to unmoved. 

As soon as Poushkin rose from his knees, the party 
fell again into a procession and escorted him to the 
quay. They picked their way along the miry streets 
by a strange mixture of moonlight and daylight, for at 
this season the sun never dipped far enough below the 
horizon to cause actual darkness. 

Once on deck Poushkin was " himself again," loud, 


jovial and bombastic, but shrewd and business-like. He 
took leave of Alarik with a hearty kiss on both cheeks, 
and a cordial wish that he might " prosper in his fur- 
speculations, or whatever the object was that had 
brought him to Berezov." A knowing wink accompanied 
these words, and he added finally, " And remember, my 
youngster, if you need the services of a trusty man 
either for boating and hunting, or for trading pur- 
poses, there's not one to compare with David the 
Ostiak. I've named him to you before, a right-down 
honest fellow, though a born savage ; a convert our mis- 
sionaries may be proud of, and that's more than I cau 
say for most of the Ostiaks, that hang copper crosses* 
round their necks by day, and worship the larch-tree 
by night! I've told you before where David may 
always be heard of, at his t Yourt ' in the forest, half a 
mile or so beyond Prince Menzikoff's grave." 

Well was it for Alarik and all he loved that this 
counsel of Poushkin's sank into his mind ; it proved to 
be but no, I am running on too fast, you shall hear by 
and by what it proved to be ; we must return to Alarik's 
present moments. 

As he walked back to his lodging with a group of 
Poushkin's grandchildren clinging about him, for he 
had speedily become a favourite with the young ones, 
he could not but own to himself that the old sailor's de- 
parture was, in one way, a relief to him. Those prying 
eyes, that inquisitive tongue, were a perpetual restraint 
on his movements, and would have been still more 
galling had any opening for his father's rescue pre- 
sented itself to him. But, alas ! none appeared ; weeks 
passed on, and Alarik's darling scheme seemed as far 
from completion as ever. His heart sank as day by day 


the impossibility of escape glared more and more upon 
him ; with a view to it, however, he still rigidly pre- 
served his incognito, and visited his parents by stealth, 
and only at intervals of two or three days. On those 
happy meetings we need not dwell, for I trust none of 
my readers are so dull as to be unable to picture to 
themselves the bliss of such interviews, green spots, as 
it were, dotted over the weary wilderness of exile and 

I would rather take them into the depths of the 
cedar forest, whither, a few days after the sailing of the 
fleet, Alarik betook himself in quest of David the 
Ostiak. He set forth alone, for to say truth, the young 
men left in Berezov were not much to his taste. He 
thought them, with few exceptions, self-indulgent and 
unmannerly ; cards and smoking were their chief occu- 
pations, and when they did attempt field sports, nets 
and traps were their only implements, the use of fire- 
arms and cutlasses involving more risk than they chose 
to expose themselves to. Alarik looked on such " sport" 
as somewhat despicable, for his Polish bringing up had 
inured him to fatigue and to some amount of danger in 
hunting, so he felt more inclined when in the vast 
forest to fraternize with its wild children, the Ostiaks, 
than with the more civilized denizens of the town. 

On the morning in question he had strolled some 
way, pausing awhile at the green mound where Menzi- 
koff, Peter the Great's spoiled and afterwards disgraced 
favourite, sleeps his last sleep. An " endless depth of 
solemn grove " stretched before him from this point, and 
beguiled by the calm solitude and the fragrant scent of 
those ancient trees he wandered on for t^o or three 
miles, taking no note of time, and trusting to his little 


pocket compass for direction. At last he sat down on 
a fallen tree to rest himself; for awhile he thought 
himself alone, but as his eye grew more used to the 
dense shade, he saw, or fancied he saw, a shadowy form 
gliding amongst the boles of the trees, some way off. 
Seized with curiosity, Alarik rose and turned his steps 
in that direction ; presently he saw that the mysterious 
intruder on his loneliness was a large dark brown she- 
bear, of a kind not uncommon in that region. He had 
never met with one before in his rambles, and felt 
some desire to obtain a nearer view of the ungainly 
animal. It was evident, however, that she was making 
for her lair, and before he could draw near, she had 
ensconced herself therein, between her two fine young 
cubs whom she had left at home. 

Alarik was about to withdraw from the spot, a little 
disappointed, when he espied an Ostiak approaching 
the lair alone, and cutlass in hand. These wild 
foresters are absolutely reckless in their attacks on the 
bear, delighting to brave it in its den, and often bear- 
ing to their graves the scars of frightful wounds given 
by the maddened animal in self-defence. Alarik watched 
the contest that now began between man and bear with 
intense interest. For awhile the creature had hung 
back, as though peaceably inclined, and unwilling to 
leave her lair ; but provoked at last by her assailant's 
hostile gestures, and startled by the blaze of a lucifer 
match, which he coolly ignited under her nose, she sud- 
denly rose to her hindfeet and rushed on the enemy. Now, 
a duel with a bear requires not only courage but great 
presence of mind. It often happens that with all these 
requisites the man gets the worst of it, and so it seemed 
likely to prove on this occasion. li became evident to 


Alarik, as lie stealthily drew near the scene of action, 
that a grip of the bear's paw had almost, at the outset, 
injured the Ostiak's right arm, so as to make it " forget 
its cunning," and that the poor fellow fought on 
gallantly, but at a terrible disadvantage. Alarik had 
a rifle with him ready loaded, and several times tried 
to take aim at the bear, but so interlaced were she and 
the Ostiak, so rapid and jerking were their movements, 
and so dim and chequered was the light in that sombre 
place, that it would have been the height of rashness to 
fire till he could do so with more precision. A fresh 
attack from the enraged animal now caused the Ostiak 
to drop his cutlass, and finding himself disarmed and 
crippled, he changed his tactics and tried to make his 
escape. But the blood was flowing from many deep 
wounds and gashes in his scantily-clothed body, and 
so weakened was he that his speed in flight would have 
been no match for that of the infuriated bear. Happily 
the antagonists were now half a yard apart, and before 
the bear could close upon her victim a bullet from 
Alarik's rifle was lodged in her brain. 

The poor Ostiak looked round in amazement at his 
unexpected rescue, and seeing Alarik, thanked him in 
broken Russian for his timely help. The man was 
short of stature, and had the flat nose, sunken eyes, 
and yellow skin of his tribe ; but his countenance was 
good and not wanting in intelligence, and his manner 
less abject than that of the half- Christianized savages 
Alarik had seen prowling about Berezov in quest of 
broken victuals, or discarded raiment. On Alarik's 
pointing to his wounds and disabled arm, he laughed 
and made light of them, then led the way to a streamlet 
which murmured hard by. Here he stooped, and after 


lapping up long draughts of the cold flowing water, 
washed the blood from his wounds, and rose up re- 
freshed. He then with native courtesy invited the young- 
gentleman to rest in his "Yourt," which was but a 
hundred yards off. Alarik, however, having once before 
entered an Ostiak dwelling, retained too lively a recol- 
lection of its squalid appearance and unsavoury odours 
to wish to repeat the experiment. He therefore 
declined the invitation, and prepared to return to 
Berezov. On asking the name of his new acquaintance, 
Alarik was pleased but scarcely surprised to find that 
it was " David," the very individual whom Poushkin 
had so warmly recommended to his notice. From 
this time forward they frequently met, and David 
became enthusiastically attached to his young, kind- 
hearted deliverer. It was now high summer at Bere- 
zov, violent heat treading on the heels of winter 
frost ; a scorching, glaring sun shone nearly the 
twenty-four hours round, merely dipping beneath the 
horizon at midnight. Its rays drew forth unwholesome 
odours from the deep slimy mud ; if you sought a 
refuge from the heat in the vast forest, a host of sting- 
ing insects fastened upon you; if you sought for fresh air 
by the river brink, the mosquitos drove you away. It 
was only in early morning that these winged torments 
could be avoided, so the Berezov world generally went 
abroad before breakfast. The men, that is such as had 
not gone with the Oby fleet, usually bathed each morning 
in the Soswa; and amongst the most regular bathers were 
Count Templitz and his son. About seven o'clock one 
July day both were proceeding to the water's edge, and 
as usual had contrived a meeting under the cedars. 
They had fallen into earnest talk, which ended by the 


count's laying his thin white hand on his son's shoulder, 
and saying, " The sight of you, dear boy, has put new 
life into your mother and Fridchen, and done much, 
very much, for me. God willing, we look to seeing you 
again in two or three years, should my life and their 
exile drag on so long ; now, it is right you should leave 
us. Go back to Europe, my Alarik, and make our 
hearts glad by walking manfully in the paths of truth 
and honour. It is not fit you should linger longer here ; 
next week a vessel leaves us for Tobolsk, and for reasons 
which, in former conversations, I have detailed to you, 
your mother and I are anxious you should take your 
passage in it ; delay will only make the parting more 
bitter to us all." 

Alarik silently acquiesced, having nothing to oppose 
to his parent's stringent reasons but a scheme, wilder, 
he b^gan to fear, than any Don Quixote had ever in- 
lulged in. So the matter was settled, and they turned 
their steps to a secluded bend in the river, their usual 
resort. There had been several terrific storms of late, 
and much thunder-rain in the Oural mountains, where 
the Soswa rises, so the river was swollen and turbid. 
This was rather an attraction to the count, who wa,s 
an excellent swimmer, and in spite of his diminished 
strength, liked breasting the rapid waters. 

Meanwhile, Frida had coaxed her mother to accom- 
pany her to Prassenko's farm and see the cows milked. 
As they walked there, the morning air smelt fresh and 
sweet, and the sun's glowing orb seemed to Frida to be 
playing at hide and seek with her through the dark pine 
foliage. They found Anna Timothevna in her cow-house, 
bright and active, feeling her way with a stick, and recog- 
nizing each cow by some peculiarity in its shape or voice. 


She stroked the little girl's fair hair, greeted the countess 
with a respect due as much to her misfortunes as to her 
rank, and begged her to rest on a bench, while a bowl 
of foaming new milk was brought to her. Then she 
did the honours of her garden, a small patch of ground 
planted with radishes, turnips, and cabbages ; these last, 
owing to the shortness of the summer, growing only 
into leaves, and never attaining to a heart ! While the 
gentle countess was trying to admire this meagre array 
of vegetables, the quick ear of Madame Prassenko was 
caught by distant shouts and cries. The noise increased, 
and presently hurried footsteps drew near, and the 
farmyard gate was flung open. " Oh, Anna Timo- 
thevna," cried a Cossack farm-boy, bursting in, " he is 
drowned ! I saw him sink the third time ! the current 
was too strong, and he is drowned !" 

" Who ? Prassenko ?" shrieked the blind woman, 
flinging down her staff, and raising both hands to 
heaven ; " Prassenko drowned, say you?" 

" Prassenko is safe enough at his office," replied the 
lad, " he bathed an hour ago ; 'tis the foreign gentle- 
man, the exile, I speak of." 

A stifled cry was heard from behind Anna Timo- 
thevna, and the countess, ashy pale, came forward, and 
begged, in her low sweet voice, to be told what had 
happened. The lad stood before her dumb and 
sheepish; but Kozlov, the Cossack who had charge of 
the exiles, had now come up and answered in great 
agitation, " 'Tis true, your grace; the count, Heaven rest 
him, is drowned. It might be cramp, or it might be the 
strength of the current ; I saw him carried down, heard 
him shout lustily for help ; two or three bathers struck 
out after him, but were foiled; one, the fur- trader 


Franz, swam boldly to the rescue, and all but caught 
him up. A reach of the river hid them ont, and we 
thought there was a chance for the count, but some 
while after, Mr. Franz reappeared alone ; he was 
quite done up, staggered, and would have dropped had 
we not held him. 'Tis a bad job," he added, looking 
round at the bystanders, " a very bad job for me ! 
Government holds me answerable for the count!" 

These last words did not reach the unhappy lady, 
for she had sunk down insensible, and been carried tc 
Madame Prassenko's chamber, a number of wailing 
women following. Frida, too much awe-struck to weep, 
held her mother's hand fast in hers. 

It was long, very long, before the countess could 
be roused from her deadly faintness ; at last she 
raised herself on one arm, and looked round with a 
bewildered glance on the many faces bending over her. 
Then her eyes rested on Frida, and she murmured, but 
fortunately too low to be understood by the others, " My 
Alarik; where is my boy ? bring him to me !" 

" Presently, dear mamma," answered the trembling 
Frida ; "but you nm^fc rest first, yon are so tired. Dear 
Madame Prassenko, might not mamma perhaps fall 
asleep, if she were left alone with me ?" 

Kind Anna Timothevna took the hint, and cleared 
the room at once. Then she groped to the windows 
and drew the curtains close, as though she felt that 
" day's garish eye" ought not to look in on sorrow like 
theirs. When she left the room, Frida followed her on 
tiptoe. " Dear Anna Timothevna," said she, blushing 
crimson at her first approach to a ruse, " mamma wishes 
to see the the kind fur-trader, who tried so hard to 
save papa; may Kozlov go seek him, and bring him here?" 


" Surely, my lamb," was the prompt reply ; and 
Kozlov was summoned, and told them he had jusfc 
seen Mr. Franz hovering near the gate, and had 
answered his inquiries after the poor lady. So Mr. 
Franz was recalled, and ushered at once into the 
darkened room. He closed the door, shot the bolt 
noiselessly, and dropped on one knee by his mother's 
side. Alarik's face wore a strange look,' troubled but 
not sad, the sunken eyes bright, the thin cheekbones 
flushed, as if he were feverish from over-fatigue. He 
said, after a pause, " Mamma, "I have something to tell, 
something very unexpected, tidings of joy, great joy: 
can you bear it, darling mother ?" 

She gazed on him fearfully, as though he were 
raving, or she in a dream. "Mother," he went on, 
" my father lives ; he is very ill, exhausted, but not dead. 
No, thank God, I have saved him ; some good angel 
strengthened me, and I drew him to shore ; I cannot 
think how I did it ! David, my trusty Ostiak, chanced 
to be fishing at that spot ; to him I committed the 
almost senseless body, pointing out a little cave under 
the river bank, where he might conceal it. I durst 
not linger near the spot, no, not for an instant, for see, 
mother, here is our golden opportunity of escape, so 
long watched for, long prayed for ! Quick as thought, 
a scheme flashed through my brain ; spent as I was, I 
dashed into the water, and rejoined the bathers. Seeing 
me alone, they at once concluded all was lost. I 
let them think so ; I gladly heard them express their 
belief that the body could not be recovered, that 
Soswa never gave up her dead ! Thus all inquiry 
will be hushed up, and we may work out our plan 
of escape, unsuspected." 


"Now, Heaven "be thanked !" murmured the 
countess, " and you too, onr dear, dear boy ; but say, my 
Alarik, is your father not wholly exhausted ? Those 
icy waves, that fearful struggle, can he indeed survive 
them ? Oh ! would I were with him, to watch and tend 
him, and fan the spark of life into a flame." 

"You soon will be, I trust," said Alarik. "I stole 
a glance at him on my way hither, and found that 
David had poured some drops of vodky down his 
throat, and that friction, and the warmth of David's 
reindeer mantle, had brought back some vital heat; 
I even fancied he returned the pressure of my hand." 
The astonishment, the rapture of mother and child 
over these tidings, can scarcely be imagined. Pru- 
dence obliged Alarik to cut the interview short, and 
as soon as they were calm, he said gravely, "Now 7 
a word about the future, which looks dark and doubt- 
rul still; we must guard our secret jealously; you, 
mother, will of course go home at once, and you 
have now a pretext for strict privacy ; I pray you seek 
out the safest hiding-place for my father, if possible, 
within your own chamber ; Fridchen must set her wits 
to work, and rid us of Kozlov this evening. The nights 
are, happily, more dusky than they were, and by eleven 
o'clock all Berezov will be in bed. I will then bring my 
father to you, if he is well enough to be moved. Our 
further plans it will take time and thought to mature ; 
and now, good night, my own mother, and may God 
and his holy ones keep you." So he left them. 

All succeeded to a wish that night ; and while Koslov 
was off guard, and the good Berezovians were wrapped in 
slumber, the count was installed in a low, dark lumber 
closet within his wife's room. A bed of soft warm furs 


was arranged for him, and for many days lie did not 
rise from it, so much had the chill and struggle 
weakened his frame. Madame de Templitz was his 
physician and nurse, and Frida his companion. The 
faithful Ostiak David was invaluable as a go-between 
Alarik and his family at this juncture, and proved 
worthy of the confidence which circumstances obliged 
them to repose in him. Once or twice a week, Alarik 
(who now ventured to call openly on the ladies) was 
jsmuegled into his father's presence, and he saw with 
joy that the hope of release already revived the exile's 
heart, and made life dear in his eyes. 



" Screw up your courage to the sticking-place." 

BY the end of August, the brief autumn of Berezov 
was over, and winter had set in. September opened 
with keen frosts ; a fall of snow soon covered houses, 
churches, and streets, with a mantle of dazzling white, 
and roofed ever the branching cedar forest. The Bere- 
zovians came out in Ostiak costume, that is, in complete 
suits of reindeer skins with the hair turned inside. 
Stoves were lighted in every house, glass- windows taken 
out, and replaced with fish-skins for the sake of warmth. 
The days shortened rapidly, and by the first week in Oc- 
tober it was pitch-dark at five o'clock, unless moonlight, 
or the bright northern lights, lit up the sky. Herds of 
reindeer now wandered back from their summer pas- 
tures in the Oural, stalking with stately gait and branch- 
ing antlers over the crisp snow. Pleasure parties in 
sledges traversed the plains, or ventured along the 
smaller rivers. The rapid Soswa was bound in icy 
chains, under which its pent-up flood moaned and 
gurgled mournfully. Keen winds blew, and woe to the 
rash wight who faced them unrnufEed ! Frostbitten 
chin or nose was the sure consequence of such impru- 

To many at Berezov the period that elapsed before 
the freezing of the rivers seemed irksome, as all com- 
munication with the outer world was cut off for five or 
six weeks. The horn that heralded the first Tobolsk 
mail was joyfully hailed, and by none more joyfully than 


by Alarik, to whose mother it brought the imperial 
"permit" to return to Europe as a widow. The 
" Naschalnik," or mayor of Berezov himself, brought this 
important paper to the gabled house, and read its con- 
tents to the veiled and silent countess. He then asked po- 
litely how soon her grace intended profiting by the czar's 
gracious permission ? She replied that her movements 
depended on those of some Berezov merchants, whose 
company would be a welcome protection to herself and 
her child. The Naschalnik pondered a moment, then 
said, "It occurs to me, gracious lady, that the fur- 
trader, young Franz, whom painful circumstances have 
brought to your grace's notice, is on the point of return- 
ing to Europe. He is a well-disposed youth, a superior 
youth, I may say, considering his line of life ; with your 
grace's leave, I will retain him as your escort. The 
cossack Kozlov shall also attend you to the Russian 

This last announcement proved as annoying as the 
first had been welcome, for Kozlov was a low, prying 
fellow, with little of honesty or feeling in his com- 
position, and his presence was very disagreeable to 
the countess ; however, her attempts to shake him off 
were vain, so she submitted with a sigh. And now 
the business of packing up began ; it was not heavy, as 
the countess gave almost all her books and furniture to 
her fellow exiles, and to such Berezovians as had shown 
her kindness. Many of these thronged her court-yard, 
bringing parting gifts, and smothering Frida with kisses 
and tears; Madame Prassenko, however, was the only per- 
son admitted to see the countess, who pleaded illness, and 
not untruly. Now the decisive hour was come, she felt 
sick at heart at the thought of her husband's danger, 


the risks of the journey, the dreadful consequences to 
Alarik as well as to him, should he be found out. Her 
musings "by day, her dreams by night, turned on this. 
Katurally timid, she could scarcely have faced the enter- 
prise at all, but for Alarik' s cheering presence, and the 
still more cheering resource of heartfelt prayer. Even- 
ing after evening she knelt for hours in the neighbour- 
ing church, and often Frida would join her, and 
stay till moonlight streamed in through the narrow 
windows of mica-slate high overhead, and rested on the 
old, old blackened images of saints that stared down 
upon her from their niches. 

Alfie's snow-clad grave had been visited for the last 
time, for they were to set out that evening, the snow 
being crisper and firmer by night than by day. The 
" narta," or sledge, that was to convey the countess was 
at the door. As is usual when women ^r invalids travel, 
boards had been nailed round it, giving it the appearance 
of a chest ; over this a strong cloth was stretched tent- 
wise, with openings on each side for, getting in or out. 
Curtains might be drawn across these openings. The 
jaside of such vehicles is always stuffed with feather- 
beds and soft warm wraps ; so it excited no remark when 
Alarik and his trusty Ostiak came hastily forth from the 
house, bearing what looked like a collection of fur cloaks ; 
this they laid carefully at the bottom of the narta ; then 
Alarik offered his hand to the countess, and assisted her 
into the sledge. " Courage, madame," he said, " all pro- 
mises well for our journey ; relays of horses are provided 
along the road, and, with your leave, I will myself be 
your charioteer at least till we have passed over the 
rough ice of the Soswa." He now placed Frida by her 
mother ; the child tore herself weeping from the arms of 


Anna Timothevna, who hung round her neck a tarnished 
but precious cross of gold and enamel. Kozlov, rather 
sulkily, obeyed Alarik's orders, and mounted the box 
of one of the baggage-sledges ; in this order they bade 
farewell to Berezov, the faithful David running by his 
young master's side, with wistful, affectionate eyes, 
until his breath was fairly exhausted. He then re- 
turned slowly and sadly to his "yourt," which the 
gratitude of the Templitz family had enabled him to 
stock with every article of furniture and dress most 
coveted amongst the Ostiaks. From this time he was 
looked up to as one of their most wealthy and influ- 
ential chiefs. A glorious aurora borealis lighted the 
heavens as our travellers set out ; over the black 
sky, where one or two stars faintly twinkled, stretched 
% luminous arch from east to west; lightning-like 
flames, blood-red, emerald green, or clear yellow, 
played up and down in it ; sometimes they shot up to 
the centre of the sky, vanished, reappeared, and being 
joined by rays from the arch, formed a magnificent dome 
of light. This glorious illumination gilded the first 
stage of their journey, then faded away, leaving them 
to the soft guidance of the silver moon. 

* * * * 

That moon waxed and waned, and another succeeded 
her, and still our travellers fared forward in cold, weari- 
ness, and intense, never-resting anxiety. Thanks, under 
Providence, to Alarik's care, they had rolled safely 
over the frozen breast of the Irtish, and eluded the police 
of Tobolsk. They had managed, without raising sus- 
picions, to supply their beloved charge with daily food, 
and a tolerable amount of fresh air. Though weak and 
emaciated, lie was not ill, ncr was he always aware of 


the hundred hair-breadth escapes that befell him. If he 
was made conscious of danger, it was by the curdling 
cheek and anxious eyes of his wife and child, never by 
rash word or exclamation from their sealed lips. Even 
Frida, young girl as she was, suppressed her feelings, 
taught by that rugged nurse Adversity. 

Hope begins to thrill through their hearts as they 
/eave the steppes of Siberia far behind, and fly over the 
Russian plains. At Ekaterinburg, Perm, ISTiznei Nov- 
gorod, and other towns which lie on their route, their 
sledge is subjected to no strict scrutiny. Alarik's vehicle 
and baggage are indeed carefully overhauled, but the pale 
widow and her helpless child are allowed to recline almost 
undisturbed in their "narta." Thus they reach Kief, where 
Alarik has a confidential friend, brother to the fur- trader 
Franz, whose passport he had borrowed. At this friend's 
hospitable house they spend the night, and for the first 
time since leaving Berezov enjoy the luxury of com- 
fortable beds, and of feeling safe for the moment. " One 
struggle more and they are free;" that struggle is to take 
place when they reach the frontier of Polish Galicia, 
now not far distant. There is a Russian custom-house 
there, and its officers are strict, and how to escape their 
search Alarik finds not, though he thinks and thinks 
the matter over till his young brow is furrowed with 
care. Plans, which had seemed feasible a week before, 
look terribly impossible now, and an agonizing fear 
shoots through him, that his rashness may plunge 
father, mother, and Frida into deeper depths of woe 
than they have known yet ; but he drives the thought 
away, and prays, and trusts, and will act too, at the 
right moment, boldly ! 

From Kief there was a change in the order of march. 


The furs were left in the warehouse, and the sledges 
which, held them dismissed. Louis Franz (who was 
devoted to the Templitz family) begged to accompany 
his beloved Count Alarik a few miles at least on his 
perilous journey. So he drove one sledge, keeping 
Kozlov as much as possible near him, while Count 
Alarik, as usual, drove the other. Somehow, these 
arrangements made Kozlov very restless and excited, 
and at the last post-house before the frontier, Franz was 
only just in time to stop a private conference between 
him and the people of the station. He ordered Kozlov 
to mount the box, which the fellow did sullenly, and 
muttering evil words under his breath. ' The mystery 
was soon explained. As they were about to start, a 
look from Frida brought her brother to her side. 
"Alarik," she whispered, white as death, "my folly has 
undone all ! I heard papa gasp, so I looped the curtains 
close, and raised the furs to give him air. I heard a 
sound and looked up, and there, through a chink in the 
curtain, was Kozlov gazing in, with such a hard, cruel 
eye. Oh, brother, we are lost !" 

"'Not yet, Frida," said Alarik, setting his teeth fast, 
"not yet, God helping us; but I'm glad I know all; 
now, cheer mamma up, and be ready for anything." He 
glanced towards his mother, and saw with joy a quiet, 
trustful smile on her lips. Then he consulted for a few 
moments with Louis Franz, keeping his eye on Kozlov 
all the while, and ended by saying aloud, " Will you, 
friend, let me drive the second sledge this stage, and 
yourself take charge of the gracious lady's ? I have had 
enough of that pulling horse for the present." So it 
was agreed; Alarik mounted the box, took the reins from 
Kozlov, and they set forward, in thickly falling snow. 


The frontier is all but reached, by a road lying 
through a broken country, with deep vales and high 
sharp knolls. At first it is pretty open, then the road 
plunges into a thick grove of trees, none of them tall or 
large. Their leafless boughs are glittering with ice- 
crystals, and rainbow hues. The two vehicles keep 
together, and Kozlov's eyes roll uneasily about him, but 
he keeps silence. No sooner have they reached the 
heart of the wood than Count Alarik pulls the left rein, 
and dashes down a glade, heedless of the violent shaking 
of the sledge, which upsets in a minute or two. He 
and Kozlov flounder in the snow, and before the latter 
can rise, Alarik is upon him, ties his hands with a rope 
he holds in readiness, and gags him with a scarf. " I 
have no wish to hurt you, friend," he says in a low, 
determined tone, " for, after all, you are but doing your 
duty ; but your clothes I must have instantly, and with- 
out a word. Here is a suit to replace them, now change 
them at once, or I can't answer for your safety." A 
loaded pistol, held at Kozlov's head, gave weight to the 
threat, and he saw he had no choice but to obey. Count 
Alarik' s next move was to secure him to a tree, pro- 
mising that if he remained still he should be released 
tvithin a few hours. He then took one horse out of the 
sledge, led him back to the road, and with Louis Franz's 
help harnessed him abreast with the two that already 
drew the countess's narta. Count Templitz meanwhile 
came forth from his lair, and with his son's assistance 
(for his limbs were so cramped he could hardly 
stand) hastily put on the Cossack's dress and fur 
cap ; his face had already been stained with walnut- 
juice, so as to hide the "pale cast of thought" 
and suffering which would have betrayed him. His 


emaciated figure was muffled, as much for concealment 
as for warmth, in a fur cloak. The supposed Cossack 
now mounted the box alongside of Alarik. It was 
thought more prudent that Louis Franz should accom- 
pany the party no further, so with great reluctance he 

lingered behind, taking possession of the forsaken 
sledge, and its one horse. 

Our travellers drew up at the Custom-house, a low, 
wooden building by the roadside, about two hundred 
yards from Austrian ground, and divided from it by a 
broad rivule.^ and stone bridge. Two or three officials 


in uniform and helmet came out, and business began. 
One of them examined Alarik's borrowed pass ; perhaps 
the last adventurous six months had aged and broadened 
him, for he certainly fitted better to the description it 
contained than he had done at Tobolsk. It was accepted 
without remark. Meanwhile the supposed Cossack 
tendered to a second officer the papers connected with 
Madame de Templitz ; he acted his part coolly, and 
mustered Russian enough to answer the questions put 
to him, briefly, and in a hoarse, gruff voice. All went 
smoothly so far. 

"While the baggage was being searched, Frida and 
her mother were courteously pressed by the custom 
house officer to take shelter within doors. But their 
anxiety was too feverish to allow of this ; they stood 
for ten minutes in the road, trembling more from fear 
than cold, and gladly acted on' the permission given 
them to ensconce themselves in their sledge again. 
The supposed Kozlov now advanced, and, in pursuance 
of a scheme previously concerted between him and his 
son, muttered a request for permission to proceed to 
Empnitz, a village some miles off, in Galicia, whither, 
he said, family affairs urgently called him. For this 
purpose a written pass had to be made out ; Count 
Alarik, who noticed that his father was becoming 
chilled and exhausted, now called to him from the 
office-door where he was standing, to mount and take 
the reins, as the horses were growing fidgetty. He 
himself almost stamped with impatience while the 
officer leisurely endorsed the remaining papers, handed 
them to him, took a hair out of his peu, and addressed 
himself to filling in a pass for the supposed Cossack. 
To hide his agitation, Alarik walked meanwhile to a 


small window which looked back on the Kief road. 
What was it that caught his attention there, suspended 
his breathing, and made him strain eye and ear in 
speechless agony ? It was the figure of a man, running 
this way, shouting, gesticulating, yelling, as he ran. 
Alarik's sight was very keen, and the snow no longer 
falling, so he could not be mistaken ! It was Kozlov 
himself! some peasant must have struck upon him in 
the wood, and set him free, and now he was at hand, 
burning for vengeance, and the truth must instantly 
come out ; and Alarik's father ! what, what would be his 

Quick as light, Alarik snatched the still wet passport 
from the astonished officer, darted out of the office, sprang 
to his father's side on the box, seized the reins, and with 
whip and voice urged the three horses forward. They, 
full of fire, though small and rough, set out at a gallop, 
rather urged on than otherwise by the shouts and calls to 
stop vociferated from behind. A pistol was fired, possibly 
by Kozlov ; the shot grazed Alarik's ear, and touched 
the middle horse, which, maddened with pain, rushed 
on like wildfire. The land of their exile and bitter 
bondage is left behind ; the bridge is gained, crossed ; 
they are on Austrian ground, safe under Austrian pro- 
tection! their toils and perils, they fondly hope, are 
ended now ; yes, ended ; for somehow or other, either 
influenced by the persuasions of the Austrian officials, 
with whom they were on friendly terms, or highly 
bribed by a certain great mercantile house at Kief, the 
custom-house officers saw fit to let the matter drop. 
After the first burst of rage was over, even Kozlov was not 
sorry to have it hushed up, and to leave the Russian 
authorities in their belief that Count Templitz had been 


drowned at Berezov. So Alarik reached his beautiful 
Galician home in peace, and there with delight unspeak- 
able, he installed his beloved father and mother. As 
time passed on he saw them recover health and cheer- 
fulness, he saw his little Frida grow up to woman- 
hood, lovely and loveable, and together they daily 
blessed the Author and Giver of all mercies, who had 
led them by thorny paths to such great happiness.* 

* The writer is greatly indebted to Mrs. Atkinson's charming book, " Tartar 
Steppes ;" also to " Bevelations of Siberia, by a Polish exile."